Calls for district chief to resign after text message divorce

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Hundreds of Indonesians have protested to demand a district chief’s resignation after revelations of his text message divorce of a teenage girl four days after their marriage sparked public outrage.

Aceng Fikri, 40, chief of Garut District in West Java province, took Fani Oktora, 17, as his second wife in July. But Mr Fikri divorced her days later via a short text message, alleging Ms Oktora was not a virgin when they married as he had expected. He said he spent the equivalent of about £16,200 on the wedding.

Students and rights activists in Garut spat and trampled on pictures of Mr Fikri yesterday before burning them outside the local council building.

It was the second consecutive day of protests against Mr Fikri, whose case came into the spotlight last week after a picture of the couple was posted on the internet. On Monday, dozens of people rallied in front of his house and the council building.

Late yesterday, the local council issued a recommendation for Mr Fikri’s dismissal, but the process will have to wait for a verdict by the Supreme Court.

Also yesterday, Ms Oktora, accompanied by her lawyers, filed a complaint with police in the capital, Jakarta, accusing Mr Fikri of domestic violence by holding her captive after the wedding, and fraudulence for declaring that he was a widower.

A lawyer representing Mr Fikri said his client would file a complaint of defamation against Ms Oktora, whom he claimed had signed an agreement saying she would not complain about the marriage.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono reportedly discussed the case with West Java governor Ahmad Heryawan during a visit to the province.

Some Muslims believe in an Islamic ritual allowing men to end a marriage by simply telling their wives they divorce them. However, divorce by text message is uncommon in moderate Indonesia.