World's Largest Jesus Christ Statue to Be Built in Most Populous Muslim Nation?

Christ the Redeemer during sunrise in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 2, 2016.
Christ the Redeemer during sunrise in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 2, 2016. | (Photo: Reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach)

Authorities in the Papua region of Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, are reportedly planning to build the world's largest statue of Jesus Christ, which would dwarf the famous "Christ the Redeemer" statue in Brazil.

"The statue will be international-class, truly the most magnificent in the world," said Papua's Head of Public Works, Djuli Mambaya, Coconuts Jakarta translated on Tuesday from a report in Detik News.

The statue, which would be built at the top of Puncak Gunung Swajah in the city of Jayapura, would cost somewhere between $22.6 million to $37.6 million, which is a significant amount of money for Papua, where 28.5 percent of the population live below the poverty line.

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Mambaya explained that the Jesus statue would be at least 165 feet tall in height, with a base of 328 feet, which is far larger than Rio De Janeiro's "Christ the Redeemer," which is 98 feet tall, though adding in the platform rises to 124 feet.

"We will build an elevator in the statue of Jesus Christ, like the one in Jakarta's Monumen Nasional, in order to see the entire city of Jayapura through the eyes of Jesus," Mambaya added.

Although a location for the proposed statue has been chosen, the provincial government is still waiting for approval from the regional parliament in order to go ahead with the building project, so the plans are not yet finalized.

If built, the monument would also be taller than the "Christ of Peace" statue in Bolivia, which stands at over 112 feet in height.

The title of the tallest Jesus statue in the world has changed hands on a few occasions over the past decades, with USA Today reporting in 2015 that the 118-foot-tall "Christ the King" in western Poland being the tallest at that time.

Other statues, such as "Jesus de Greatest" in Nigeria, have recently been built to offer hope at a time of deep religious hostility.

With Nigeria roughly split half-in-half along its Christian and Muslim populations, and facing a radical Islamic insurgency since 2009 in the face of Boko Haram, the businessman behind the statue said his hopes are that it will inspire different religious people to "live in harmony."

Christians in Indonesia make up less than 10 percent of its 258 million population, with Muslims accounting for 87.2 percent of the total share.

Believers have been left facing an uncertain future following the recent defeat of Basuki Tjahaja "Ahok" Purnama, the soon to be former Christian governor of Jakarta, which reports said was a significant victory for hardline Muslims.

"I think that's the question Christians are asking is, 'Okay, what's our role in the society as a whole? Is this idea of Pancasila dead? Or are we still trying to live in harmony side-by-side?'" Todd Nettleton of Voice of the Martyrs USA said, referring to efforts to bring Christians and Muslims together in peace.

Follow Stoyan Zaimov on Facebook: CPSZaimov

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