Tag: islam

Nightspots in Jakarta ordered shut during Ramadan

Those looking to have fun in the Indonesian capital during Ramadan should go elsewhere.

The Jakarta administration has banned nightspots from operating during Ramadan, which is set to begin Saturday, ostensibly to respect those who observe the Muslim fasting month.

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Photo: The Parrot/Ismira Lutfia Tisnadibrata

Places such as discotheques, massage parlours and saunas have been ordered to shut from one day before Ramadan until one day after Eid al-Fitr, a festival marking the end of the holy month, said Catur Laswanto, head of the city’s tourism agency.

Eid al-Fitr is from June 25 to 26.

Exceptions are to be made for establishments located in hotels and specially-designated entertainment centres, he said.

“The rules are in place so that Muslims can observe the holy month solemnly,” he said.

Similar rules also are in place in other cities in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country.

In the past, the Muslim vigilante group Islamic Defenders’ Front sometimes raided nightspots that remained open during Ramadan, accusing those places of harbouring prostitutes and drug addicts.

But such raids have been rare in recent years after the government cracked down on violators of Ramadan hours and the sale of alcohol.

Mahdi Ba’bud, a local head of the Islamic Defenders’ Front in Jakarta, said his group would not conduct any raids this Ramadan.

“The police will take action,” he said. “We are just watching.”

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Indonesia’s sexual minorities dealt new blow with conviction of gay couple

The gay community in Indonesia was dealt another blow after a court in the sharia-ruled province of Aceh sentenced a gay couple to 85 strokes of the cane, in the first such case in the country.

Sexual minorities in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country are already on the defensive following last year’s barrage of anti-gay rhetoric and actions by officials.

“This is a sad day for the LGBT community,” said Yuli Rustinawati, spokeswoman for Arus Pelangi, a group that advocates for the country’s lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT).

“It is ironic because today we are celebrating International Day Against Homophobia,” she said.

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Sexual minorities and rights activists feared the worst after Aceh’s parliament issued a new set of Islamic laws, known as qanun jinayat, regulating private morality in 2014. The laws took effect in October 2015.

Under the law, sex out of wedlock and same-sex sexual acts are punishable by 100 lashes of the cane, or 100 months in prison.

The previous laws banned gambling, alcohol and being alone with someone of the opposite sex while unmarried, but did not specifically regulate sexual acts.

“Qanun jinayat that is used to convict [the gay couple] is discriminatory and the punishment meted out is especially harsh,” said Adreas Harsono, a researcher for Human Rights Watch.

“Their rigths were also violated because they were mistreated during their arrest,” he said.

Local vigilantes barged into the couple’s rented room in the city of Banda Aceh and handed them over to sharia police.

A video posted on YouTube showed a visibly distressed naked man surrounded by angry locals.

Many homosexuals have left Aceh since the introduction of the laws, Harsono said.

Transgender people in Aceh had very few job opportunities, forcing many of them to resort to working as hairdressers at salons.

But even as hairdressers, they are banned from serving female customers.

The once-rebellious Aceh has long been known as a staunchly Muslim
region and is nicknamed “The Veranda of Mecca.”

The central government granted Aceh special autonomy in 2002 to
mollify desires for independence, allowing the province to impose its version of sharia laws.

Jakarta and separatist rebels signed a peace pact in 2005, ending
decades of conflict that killed 15,000 people, mostly civilians. The deal was spurred by the Indian Ocean tsunami a year earlier that killed more than 170,000 people in Aceh.

The mayor of provincial capital Banda Aceh, Illiza Sa’aduddin Djamal, has referred to the growing visibility of gays and lesbians as a “moral tsunami.”

She said her government has formed a special team to provide counselling for homosexual people.

In the rest of Indonesia, consensual sex between people of the same sex is not a crime, but hostility toward homosexuals has been growing.

Early last year, Higher Education Minister Muhammad Nasir warned of pro-LGBT activities on university campuses and banned such groups.

Last month, police in Indonesia’s second largest city Surabaya raided hotel rooms and detained eight men for participating in a “gay sex party.”

The government has sought to block gay-friendly mobile apps that it says promote “sexual deviance” and has also asked social networking services to remove emoticons from the Indonesian market which depict same-sex couples.

Arus Pelangi, the LGBT group, said it recorded more than 150 incidents of discrimination, harassment and attacks against LGBT people last year.

The government has also blocked international funding for organizations working to help sexual minorities, said Harsono of Human Rights Watch.

The Constitutional Court is considering a case filed by a group of conservative academics that seeks to criminalize consensual gay sex among adults, with proposed penalties of up to five years in prison. No verdict on the petition had been passed.

“Things are getting worse and worse for LGBT people,” said Harsono.

“I’m at loss for words about the inhumanity.”

Jakarta governor’s jailing tests Indonesian unity

Rallying cries by conservative Muslims for the prosecution of Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama have culminated in his imprisonment, sending shock waves through minority communities in Indonesia. Continue reading “Jakarta governor’s jailing tests Indonesian unity”

Ahok concedes defeat in Jakarta gubernatorial election

The governor of Jakarta, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, has conceded defeat in a religiously-charged election to lead the Indonesian capital after unofficial vote counts showed a comfortable lead for his opponent Anies Baswedan.

 

“To our supporters, I know you are sad, but this is the will of God,” Basuki said.

“We still have six months to finish our homework and we will do our best,” he said, referring to his time left in office.
anies
A representative selection of votes surveyed by several pollsters, referred to as quick counts, showed Basuki on 42 per cent and rival Anies commanding 58 per cent.

Anies is backed by conservative Muslims who want Basuki, a Christian of Chinese descent, jailed for a perceived insult to Islam that dogged his campaign.

The apparent margin of Basuki’s loss came as a surprise after polls conducted before the election showed the race to be too close to call.

Basuki won a three-way first-round vote on February 15, securing 43 per cent of the votes compared to Anies’s 40 per cent.

Anies said after the first results came in that he would work to unite the divided electorate.

“We are committed to maintaining unity in Jakarta,” Anies said. “We want to celebrate pluralism and diversity.”

The official tally from the run-off will not be announced until the first week of May, but the so-called quick counts have accurately predicted past elections.

Wednesday’s election was seen by some analysts as a test of secular democracy in the world’s most populous predominantly Muslim country.

“Your vote will determine the direction of Jakarta,” Basuki said after casting his ballot near his residence in North Jakarta.

“Let’s celebrate democracy with joy,” he said.

About 7 million of Jakarta’s 10 million residents were eligible to vote.

Basuki’s bid for a second term was hampered by a blasphemy case triggered by comments he made on the Koran.

Basuki’s remarks that there were people who deceived Muslim voters into believing that the Koran commands them not to vote for Jews and Christians sparked massive street protests by conservatives in November and December.

He was charged with blasphemy and is facing a maximum five-year jail term if found guilty. He remains free and a verdict is expected after the election.

He has apologized for the remarks, and said that he was referring to those who misused religion for political gain.

His campaign has warned that a victory for his Islamist-backed opponent could threaten diversity and pluralism.

“I voted for Ahok because he has proven to be a leader who gets things done and he represents diversity,” said Rudy Pardede after voting at a polling station in central Jakarta.

Security was tight in the capital, with 65,000 police officers deployed to guard against voter intimidation.

Once a clear favourite, Basuki saw his poll numbers falling after the blasphemy accusations, as many conservative Muslims genuinely believe that he insulted Islam.

Conversely, support for the US-educated Anies rose after he met one of the leaders of the anti-Basuki protests, firebrand cleric Muhammad Rizieq Shihab.

Basuki, the first Christian to lead Jakarta in 50 years, has been perceived as an effective administrator in a bureaucracy long plagued by corruption and incompetence.

He has won praise for cleaning up rivers clogged with rubbish in an effort to reduce flooding, a perennial problem in the city.

His administration has also built more parks and playgrounds.

But he has caused resentment with his decision to evict poor residents from their riverbank homes and relocate some of them to cramped, low-cost apartments, where they have to find rent money despite having been separated from their source of income.

Anies, a respected academic, has capitalized on the discontent, vowing to upgrade existing houses instead of evicting.

Tight race for Jakarta governorship after divisive campaigning

Jakarta’s residents will choose between a beleaguered Christian incumbent and a rival supported by conservative Muslims in a religiously charged gubernatorial election on April 19.

The election, which sees Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, an ethnic Chinese Christian, take on former education minister Anies Baswedan, is seen by some analysts as a test of secular democracy in the world’s most populous predominantly Muslim country.

Ahok’s bid for a second term has been dogged by a blasphemy case triggered by comments he made on the Qur’an that were deemed insulting to Islam.

Ahok won a three-way first-round vote on February 15, securing 43 per cent of the votes. Anies came second with 39 per cent.

Latest polls suggest that the race for the run-off is tight, with Anies leading by about percentage point.

“A defeat for Ahok could be a bad precedent because political parties would be led to believe that the politization of religion is effective,” said Tobias Basuki, a political analyst at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies.

Ahok’s remarks that there were people who deceived Muslim voters into believing that the Qur’an commands them not to vote for Jews and Christians sparked massive street protests by conservatives in November and December.

Ahok was charged with blasphemy and is facing a maximum five-year jail term if found guilty. He remains free and a verdict is expected after the election.

He has apologized for the remarks, and said that he was referring to those who misused religion for political gain.

His campaign has warned that a victory for his Islamist-backed opponent could threaten diversity and pluralism.

But in some neighbourhood mosques, congregants installed banners calling for Muslims not to vote for an “infidel,” in reference to Ahok. The banners warned that those who did so would not receive Islamic rites when they died.

Once a clear favourite, Ahok saw his poll numbers falling after the blasphemy accusations, as many conservative Muslims genuinely believe that he insulted Islam.

On the other hand, support for the US-educated Anies rose after he met one of the leaders of the anti-Ahok protests, firebrand cleric Muhammad Rizieq Shihab.

Ahok, the first Christian to lead Jakarta in 50 years, has been perceived as an effective administrator in a bureaucracy long plagued by corruption and incompetence.

He has won praise for cleaning up rivers clogged with rubbish, thereby reducing flooding, a perennial problem in the city of 10 million people.

His administration has also built more parks and children’s playgrounds.

But he has caused resentment with his decision to evict poor residents from their riverbank homes and relocate some of them to low-cost apartments, where they have to find rent money despite having been separated from their source of income.

Ahok has also drawn criticism for going ahead with the reclamation of Jakarta Bay to create 17 artificial islands for business and recreational purposes.

Anies, a respected academic, has capitalized on the discontent.

He has vowed to upgrade existing houses instead of evicting, and to cancel the reclamation of the bay, saying that the project threatens the environment and the fishermen’s livelihood.

He has denied accusations that he was complicit in sectarianism, arguing that perceived injustice and growing social division were the underlying problems.

“To bring unity, we need to tackle the issue of disparities. Disparities between the haves and the have-nots … and between the educated and the not-educated,” he said.

Blasphemy case tests Indonesian democracy

Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama has never minced his words.

He has used expletives during television talk shows, publicly insulted his subordinates and even described his own religion, Christianity, as silly. Continue reading “Blasphemy case tests Indonesian democracy”

Cleric says pilgrims’ safety is paramount as Indonesia bids for more hajj quota

Indonesia is seeking ways to have more hajj quota next year in a bid to shorten its aspiring pilgrims’ waiting list that extends for decades and to avoid further embarrassment after hundreds of its citizens were found to have performed the mandatory religious ritual illegally this year, including posing as pilgrims from another country.

But Yahya Cholil Staquf, a top cleric from Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization Nahdlatul Ulama said there is more to the pilgrimage woes than getting more quota allocation.

“What is important is not to have more pilgrims but to ensure their security during the pilgrimage,” Yahya said, adding that the quota allocation is basically set to ensure a safe and comfortable pilgrimage.

He also urged the government to issue a regulation about senior citizens of 60 years old and above who have not had the chance to perform the hajj.

“We need to make their departure a priority so they can go on the pilgrimage as soon as possible with a management and services that cater to their needs,” Yahya said.

Indonesian Muslim Intellectuals Association (ICMI) secretary general, Muhammad Jafar Hafsah said in a statement that the government needs to improve its hajj management and impose stricter evaluation on the annual event.

“There is a high demand and people can afford to go but they can’t due to limited quota. Even if they could finally go, they would be too old or probably already die by then,” he said.

Religious Ministry inspector general, M. Jasin said the religious affairs ministry has been beefing up efforts to lobby the Saudi government since last year to have the quota for Indonesia reinstated to its normal 211,000.

“We are confident that in 2017 our quota will be back to normal,” Jasin said.

The quota is allocated based on one per 1,000 out of each country’s Muslim population. Indonesia has been dealing with quota woes for the past three years after the Saudi government lowered quota for hajj-sending countries to make room for the renovation of Grand Mosque in Mecca. This year, Indonesia had 168,000 quota, a further reduction from last year’s 178,000 and the quotas were from far enough to accommodate Muslims who aspire to perform the annual ritual.

Jasin added that he is optimistic Indonesia could have more quota of about 240,000 or one percent out of its total population, considering that the holy mosque would have bigger capacity to accommodate more pilgrims after the renovation is finished.

Religious affairs ministry data showed that aspiring pilgrims have to wait 10 years at best to go to Mecca while those in some regions in Sulawesi have to wait the longest extending to 2054 and 2055.

The Philippine authorities found earlier this month that up to 700 foreigners, most of them believed to Indonesians and Malaysians, had gone on the pilgrimage posing as Philippine citizens. Last month, immigration officials at Ninoy Aquino International Airport arrested 177 Indonesian pilgrims who were posing as Philippine citizens as they  were about to board their flights to Saudi Arabia, while another group of 229 Indonesians were detained by the Saudi authorities earlier this month for overstaying their visas and not having the proper hajj permits.

President Joko Widodo has also sought ways for Indonesia to use other countries’ unused hajj quota. Joko mentioned about this possibility to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte during their meeting in Jakarta on Sep 9, as well as to Saudi Arabian Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, who is also the second deputy prime minister and defense minister, when they met on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, China earlier this month.

Joko said that both leaders agreed to Indonesia’s proposal but it would take further detailed calculation and procedure before the plan could actually work, while Duterte also agreed to amicably resolve the matter regarding the Indonesian pilgrims using Philippine passports.

“We would finalise this when King Salman visits Indonesia in October. Hopefully by that time we would know the additional figure for Indonesia’s quota and the possibility to use other countries’ unused quota,” Joko told journalists in Serang, Banten province on Sep 11.

Jasin said Saudi Arabia has to issue a new regulation about using other countries’ quota first before allowing Indonesia to bilaterally seek the countries’ approval to use their unused quotas.

The hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and is mandatory ritual for adult Muslims who are financially and physically able to do it for at least once in a lifetime. This year, hajj pilgrims in Indonesia had to pay Rp 34,641,000 per person to go on the pilgrimage.

Repeated hajj is also another cause to the lengthy waiting list. The Indonesian Council of Ulemma (MUI) issued a fatwa in 1984 that says once is enough to go on the pilgrimage but many have repeated the ritual multiple times. The fatwa was issued in consideration that others who have not had the chance to go could use the spots in the hajj quota.

In May 2015, the religious affairs ministry issued a ministerial regulation that impose a ten-year gap since the last hajj departure for those who want to do it again.