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    » 09/17/2007, 00.00

    INDONESIA

    Catholic students forced to wear the Islamic veil

    Mathias Hariyadi

    It is happening in schools in the North of Sumatra. A Christian family raises the alarm, their daughters “have no other choice” but to dress according to Islamic customs. This is imposed by some local norms inspired by Sharia, which should only effect Muslim citizens.

    Jakarta (AsiaNews) – The increasing numbers of local laws inspired by Sharia (perda syariat) ,  are threatening the religious freedom of non Muslims, forced to wear Islamic clothes.  Political and religious leaders have long highlighted the problem, but so far, no concrete steps have been taken to resolve the issue.

    The latest episode reported by a Catholic family in Padang north Sumatra is worrying: Stefanus Prayog Ismu Rahardi has 3 children, 2 of whom attend state school; recently the teachers asked them to wear the Islamic veil or in Indonesian;  jilbab. “It’s the first time that it has happened – says the father – and my daughters are scared, I tried to make them see the veil as a simple accessory, but they clearly understand that the problem goes well beyond aesthetics, they feel they are now in an environment that is hostile to their religion”.

     

    The case is not an isolated one in the majority Muslim state.  Since 2002 over 19 states have implemented the so-called perda syariat, norms which should however only apply to Muslim citizens.   A Catholics student at a public school SMU Negeri II - Pesisir Selatan district – tells that this institute introduced the veil in 2005 and she herself has been forced to wear it.  “Teachers pressured me into conforming – she says – now people see me on the streets and think that I have converted to Islam”.  

     

    Boniface Bakti Siregar, from Padang-based Catholic Affairs in the Ministry for Religious Affairs says that such perda has caused serious psychological impact to non-Muslim students. “They have no choice to stay at this state-run schools, since there are no both catholic and protestant schools in those  districts which are located very far from the provincial capital of Padang”.

     

    Following the move to regional autonomy, 22 regencies and municipalities in Indonesia have adopted laws inspired by Sharia: some have criminalized behaviour forbidden by Islamic law, such as adultery, prostitution, gambling, alcoholism and they restrict women’s freedom.  Over 55 members of parliament sought to highlight the non-constitutional aspects of this problem last year, but the Minister for the Interior placed all responsibilities at the door of regional governors.  In the country the strong intellectual influence of Muslim religious leaders are concentrated on trying to contains fanaticism and Islamic extremism.

     

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    See also

    24/04/2008 INDONESIA
    In Padang, Islamic law is now imposed on all
    The controversial local laws inspired by sharia are now being applied to non-Muslim citizens. Female students who do not wear the headscarf are suspended, and few have the courage to rebel, because of fear of reprisals from fundamentalists.

    07/03/2009 INDONESIA
    East Java, policewomen must wear Islamic veil
    The new chief of police has issued a "nonbinding" order for all women in uniform. Police officers are also asked to pray five times a day. The headquarters in Java has approved the norm, and says that the agents are "free" to decide whether to follow it.

    22/01/2004 indonesia
    Islamic Veil: Muslims and Christians in favor of the French prohibition


    11/06/2012 INDONESIA
    West Java: Tasikmalaya authorities impose Sharia law and compulsory veil
    The objective is to strengthen moral and traditional values. The "morals police " that does not refer to the Islamic courts, but to civil justice. Jakarta politician: "unconstitutional and discriminatory." Protests of women: the veil is not a "matter of state" but a personal choice.

    18/09/2008 INDONESIA
    For Indonesian Church anti-pornography bill threatens national unity
    Laity and Justice and Peace Commissions come out against the proposed legislation because it favours divisions and ethnic conflicts. Proposed law stems from an attempt to introduce Sharia and turn the country into another Saudi Arabia. The bill is opposed by the country’s middle class and cultural elite.



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