JAKARTA -- Hundreds of university students staged protests in Indonesia against the recent extension of a controversial government- sponsored lottery, news reports said Friday.
Muslim students protested Thursday at the university compound in the west Java city of Bandung, about 125 miles (200 km) southeast of Jakarta. The students condemned the renewal of the distribution license of the controversial lottery, the 'Philanthropic Donation with Prize,' or SDSB.
It was the third such protest in Bandung in the past two weeks. Similar protests were held Thursday at universities in the east Java cities of Surabaya and Jember.
Last week, about 7,000 Muslim students clashed with security forces at an anti-lottery protest in Banjung. Three students and one officer were injured.
That protest followed the announcement by the treasurer of the lottery that the SDSB's license, due to expire in December, had been extended in September.
The SDSB has come under fire from the country's Islamic leaders, who consider the lottery 'gambling,' and say that it drains funds from the poor and rural economy.
The students rejected claims by Social Affairs Minister Inten Suweno that those critical of the drawing were only focusing on its negative impacts.
Nearly 90 percent of Indonesia's 185 million residents are Muslims, making it the world's most populous Islamic nation. Muslims prohibit gambling, and consider money gained through games of chance to be 'impure'.
K.H. Misbach, chairman of the Indonesia's Ulemas Council east Java chapter, said that if the government intends to reduce poverty in the country, 'the lottery must be scrapped.'
Government ministers, however, have insisted the state-run lottery is not gambling. The ministers have said the lottery would not be stopped until alternative sources of funding are found.
SDSB coupons are available at prices varying from the U.S. equivalent of 75 cents to D2.38. Prizes of up to 1 billion rupiah ($476,200) are offered.