Jakarta clinic asks clients to recite Qur’an for free tattoo removal

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Sandi Widodo, a former tattoo artist, reads a book in his tattoo removal clinic in Tangerang, Banten province near Jakarta. (AN photo)
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Sandi only charges a little for his repentant Muslim clients but requires them to recite 50 verses from a surah in the Quran.(AN photo)
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Sandi shoots laser beams to remove a tattoo from a client’s chest. (AN photo)
Updated 14 April 2018

Jakarta clinic asks clients to recite Qur’an for free tattoo removal

  • Sandi began offering affordable tattoo removal to people — but told his customers they must show genuine remorse by memorizing and reciting 50 verses from the Qur’an.
  • More than 1,400 people registered online for Sandi’s initial treatment offer.

Jakarta: After 10 years working as a successful tattoo artist, 32-year-old Sandi felt increasingly uncomfortable about the body art business and, in 2014, decided to quit.
But after finding out how difficult and expensive it was to get his own tattoos removed with laser treatment, he came up with a novel idea.
Sandi began offering affordable tattoo removal to people who had undergone a similar change of heart — but told his customers they must show genuine remorse by memorizing and reciting 50 verses from the Qur’an. After that they pay as little as 100,000 Indonesian rupiah ($7) for anaesthetics and treatment.
He then converted a room adjacent to his parents’ house in South Tangerang, on the outskirts of Jakarta, into a tattoo removal clinic that he named Tattoo Hijrah Removal.
The clinic is equipped with laser tattoo removal machines that Sandi bought with money collected from a crowdfunding effort that raised 90 million Indonesian rupiah in just five days in August last year.
More than 1,400 people registered online for Sandi’s initial treatment offer.
“I selected 400, including 150 women,” he said. “Some continued with the treatment, while others backed down — but, overall, 70 percent of them had their tattoos removed,” he told Arab News as he took a break from treating a client.
Now Sandi only accepts registration via a messaging application and selects clients who are willing to meet his requirements.
“They must be able to show they are remorseful,” he said, adding that a client has to recite 10 verses before each session for a round of five treatments. If more sessions are needed to remove the tattoos, clients have to pay for another round and repeat the same drill.
Sandi offers leniency to some clients with difficult histories, such as Andri Purnomo, a Muslim convert.
Purnomo converted to Islam in 2012 so he could marry his long-term Muslim girlfriend, but the marriage lasted only two years.
During his wayward life following the divorce, Purnomo had both his arms inked, but said he never regretted having converted to Islam despite his failed marriage.
“After a while, I began to feel uncomfortable with my tattoos. I signed up for Sandi’s treatment in August 2017 but was not selected. I really wanted to have my tattoos removed, so I contacted Sandi directly and told him about my situation,” Purnomo said.
Sandi agreed to treat Purnomo on condition that he learn how to pray, perform the prayers and recite two short chapters of the Qur’an before each treatment.
“So I learned, and we pray together whenever I have my session. Last year was a turning point in my life when I felt I had a calling, became uncomfortable with my tattoos and met Sandi. They all came at the same time. Maybe they were meant to be like that for me,” he said.
Zulfikar Hasan, a communications student from Karawang in West Java, commutes for two hours every month with his parents and a counsellor to Sandi’s studio to have his tattoos removed. He has undergone four sessions at the clinic.
Sandi also treated Hasan as a special case after a request from the counsellor, Zahra Zakaria, who convinced him that Hasan needed the help of a role model to re-embrace Islam.
“I had my chest and back inked because of peer pressure. My friend said they would look good on me,” Hasan said. “At first my regret was that they weren’t as good as I had expected. But after consulting with Zahra and long talks with Sandi, I realize that as a Muslim I should not have tattoos on my body,” Hasan said.


Dutch police discover five siblings locked away for years on farm

A general view of a remote farm where a family spent years locked away in a cellar, according to Dutch broadcasters' reports, in Ruinerwold, Netherlands October 15, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 16 October 2019

Dutch police discover five siblings locked away for years on farm

  • An employee at the cafe told RTV Drenthe one of the family members, a 25-year-old man with long hair, had come in looking scruffy and bewildered and said he had not been outside for nine years

AMSTERDAM: Five siblings and a man believed to be their father were receiving medical treatment after Dutch police acting on a tip discovered them locked away in a secret room at an isolated farm, officials in the Netherlands said on Tuesday.
The five, estimated at 18 to 25 years of age, and a man they identified as their ailing father were found near Ruinerwold, a village in the northern province of Drenthe.
“We found six people living in a small space in the house which could be locked, not a cellar. It is unclear if they resided there voluntarily,” local police said in a statement, adding that the people may have been hidden away on the property for nine years.
“They say they are a family, a father and five children,” police added.
Officials did not confirm local TV reports that the family may have held “end of days” apocalyptic beliefs.
Earlier, local Mayor Roger de Groot said a 58-year-old man, not the father of the children, had been arrested. His role was unclear.
The Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad daily identified the man as “Joseph B.,” an Austrian carpenter.
Police confirmed they had arrested a man who was renting the farm but would not comment on his identity.
The children’s mother had apparently died before they moved to the Dutch farm, the mayor said. None of the family members were registered as residents with the municipality, police said.
The family, who according to local news reports had been waiting for the end of time, was discovered after one of the siblings escaped and sought help at a nearby cafe.
An employee at the cafe told RTV Drenthe one of the family members, a 25-year-old man with long hair, had come in looking scruffy and bewildered and said he had not been outside for nine years.
“You could see he had no idea where he was or what he was doing,” the cafe owner, Chris Westerbeek, told the broadcaster. “He said he had run away and that he urgently needed help.”
The siblings had apparently lived in makeshift rooms inside the farm and survived partly on vegetables and animals from a secluded garden on the property, local TV RTV Drenthe reported.
“I understand there are a lot of questions,” De Groot said. “We have many too. The police are investigating all possible scenarios.”