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Archive for the ‘Indonesia’ Category

One of the biggest islamic organisations in Indonesia, Muhammadiyah, came with a fatwa that forbids muslims to smoke.

“Smoking is suicide, and incompatible with islam.”

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“Sexy attire” used by women during aerobics class is “against the spirit of Islam,” said the Indonesian Islamic Ulemas Council (MUI) in Palembang, South Sumatra province.

The statement comes only a few weeks after the agency in charge of public morality and the defence of Islamic values had issued a similar fatwa concerning hairdos and pre-marital photos. In its recent pronouncement, it targeted sexy outfits that “provoke lust in men.”

For the MUI, it is wrong especially for young women to wear “improper” garments during aerobic exercises in gyms or in the open air, because of their effect on men.

Aerobic exercises early in the morning, especially during weekends, have become a regular activity for thousands of women of all ages.

Kiai Hajj Sodikun, MUI leader in Palembang, said women should wear more chaste clothing so as not to arouse men. Because of this, unduly sexy gym suits or physical exercises and movements that excite men “should be considered haram (morally illicit)”.

Mr Kiai does acknowledge the importance of physical exercises for human health, but insists that they must be practiced with the appropriate clothing.

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A crowd of over 150 Muslims in the village of Curug Mekar, in the sub district of West Bogor (West Java province), staged a protest against the building permit (IMB) of a Protestant church. The event has prompted local authorities to revoke the authorization, justifying the decision by alleged “irregularities” in the collection of signatures needed for the building of the place of Christian worship.

At the center of the controversy is the Protestant Church of Yasmin in the village of Curug Mekar. Yesterday Bambang Gunawan, executive secretary of local government, assured the protesters that “we need to review the process that led to the issuance of the building permit.” The issue will be discussed today before the mayor, who will decide whether to definitively confirm or withdraw the permit. The words uttered by the Executive Secretary unleashed demonstrators’ joy.

The document issued by the Indonesian authorities for the construction of buildings (IMB) requires a structured process, which is further complicated in the case of Christian places of worship. Governmental permits, must be approved “without prejudice” by collecting signatures of residents of the area affected by the project. It may take up to 10 years to get all the needed documents in order.

Bambang Gunawan said that the earlier granted permission has no legal status because “the signatures of the residents are irregular and some were falsified”. A statement welcomed by Muslims, who say they are “happy because the aim was reached.” The church, in fact, is currently locked and no one knows if it will be opened in the future. Imam Ahmad Hajj, a chief of the Indonesian Muslim Communication Forum (Forkami) in Bogor, is “sure” that “the IMB will be withdrawn.”

The Indonesian Bishops’ Conference has also intervened against the repeated and sudden revocation of building permits, making a formal protest in Parliament. A crowd of Muslims blocked the building of the Catholic church of Saint Mary at Purwakarta in West Java province. The faithful had obtained all permits, denounce the bishops, but the realization of the place of worship is still pending and the local authorities fail to protect the legitimate rights of minorities.

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Following the shocking alleged rape of a student by the Shariah Police in Aceh, another young woman is said to have been forced to endure a horrific sexual attack, this time by two men posing as religious police officers.

Syarifuddin, Aceh’s deputy commander for religious police operations, said on Wednesday that the latest sexual assault occurred on Feb. 3 in Central Aceh district, when a 24-year-old student was raped by two men.

Central Aceh Police Chief Edwin Rahmat Adikusumo said the student was sitting with her boyfriend by Laut Tawar Lake, when the men, claiming they were Shariah Police officers, approached them.

“The men threatened to marry them,” Edwin said. “Because she was scared, she obeyed the men’s order to come with them and left her boyfriend at the lake.”

Edwin said the girl was then brought to a quiet place and was raped by the two men.

“The police are now hunting the two men in West Aceh, hopefully we can arrest them within three days,” he said.

Edwin said the men were not wearing Shariah Police uniforms when they abducted the girl, so he did not believe they were part of the force.

“Teenagers who hang out by the lake are often mugged by local thugs,” he said.

Syukuruddin, head of the district’s religious police, said the suspects were not part of his unit, because his officers always wore their uniforms when on duty.

“The victim has seen all 38 members of the squad during a lineup, and did not identify any of them as the ones who raped her,” he said.

He said the case was strange because the victim did not appear to be traumatized.

Syarifuddin said the latest rape might be part of an attempt to discredit the Shariah Police.

Several people might have claimed they were members of the force when committing crimes against violators of Islamic law, Syarifuddin said.

“This is a new phenomenon in Aceh, since the case in Langsa,” he said.

He was referring to the alleged gang rape of a 20-year-old university student by three Shariah Police officers last month after she was detained for allegedly engaging in an “immoral” act with her boyfriend.

Syarifuddin said that people must have the courage to ask Shariah Police officers to present their credentials when they are stopped, because officers are required to wear uniforms and carry their ID cards when on duty.

He also said that the Shariah Police should ensure that its officers act according to the rules of Islam while at the same time respecting Acehnese traditions.

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Muslim leaders in Indonesia told the faithful not to celebrate Valentine’s Day because it is sinful and leads to “free sex”.

“We forbid Muslims to celebrate Valentine’s Day,” said Abdullah Cholil, an East Java leader of Nahdlatul Ulama, the mainly Muslim country’s biggest Islamic organisation. “The day is often celebrated by young, unmarried people. They celebrate Valentine’s Day by holding hands or having free sex, which they are not supposed to be doing,” he said.

Lalilurrahman, the East Java branch chief of the country’s highest Islamic body, the Indonesian Ulema Council, said the celebration of romance and love was a Western tradition and therefore should not interest Muslims. “Valentine’s Day originated from Western culture. It’s not in accordance with Islamic and Eastern culture,” he said.

Shopping centres in Indonesia’s major cities are decked out with Valentine’s Day gift offerings as well as displays marking Chinese New Year. Most Indonesians are moderate Muslims and few pay much attention to the moral edicts of local Islamic leaders.

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