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Indonesians bend laws to hook up

From CNN Correspondent Atika Shubert

Sari Subrata is marrying a Dutch citizen who has converted to Islam to marry her.
Sari Subrata is marrying a Dutch citizen who has converted to Islam to marry her.

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JAKARTA, Indonesia (CNN) -- In Indonesia it is illegal for couples to say "I do" to someone from another faith.

While Indonesians are pushing for marriage laws to be changed, pressure from religious parties keep many lawmakers from even talking about it.

So some Indonesians -- and foreigners marrying Indonesians -- are coming up with creative loopholes to get around the problem.

Sari Subrata is getting married the traditional way. She is a Muslim from the Indonesian island of Java and every step in the wedding ceremony carefully follows family tradition.

Everything, that is, except the groom.

Subrata is marrying Eric Otto, a Dutch citizen who previously considered himself Christian. He converted to Islam to marry Sari.

"I wasn't really religious and I'm still not very religious, but I had to do it," says Otto.

Indonesia is the world's largest Muslim nation. But there are sizeable pockets of Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism. A Muslim-Christian couple is not uncommon these days, especially in urban areas.

"This wasn't possible in the old days, " says Subrata.

"You couldn't even talk about interfaith marriages. It was just unthinkable, impossible."

Still, Subrata says following family tradition was important to her.

"I made it clear that I didn't want to marry someone from a different faith. I don't insist that my religion is better than the others but it's all part of our culture and our way of life."

Another Indonesian, Irina Desi, is facing the same dilemma. She is Muslim and her husband to be is Catholic. After much debate, they decided neither would convert.

Both are Indonesian citizens. To get around the law, they decided to get married overseas, a decision her friends and family initially rejected.

"They questioned my decision," says Desi. Her family told her it was a sin and asked her how dare she do it.

"I proved to my mom that I have a wonderful life with this guy. So she finally agreed with my decision."

Parents of both couples had one major concern: What religion would their grandchildren be?

"As long as you teach your children there are different religions, different beliefs, when they get older, they decide themselves," says Otto.


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