Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Indonesian Islamic fundamentalists and a number
high profile Indonesians, including a pop singer, have openly criticised the new
Health minister for proposing a campaign in favour of condoms to counter the
spread of HIV-AIDS.
Appointed only a month ago following the death of her predecessor Dr
Endang, Ms Nafsiah Mboy, a pediatrician, stirred a hornet's nest in the world's
most populous Muslim country by proposing to hand out condoms among young people
at strategic locations (including nightclubs) to stop the spread of the
An expert in HIV-AIDS prevention, Mboy wants her campaign to reach the
whole country, but Islamist groups, including the Indonesian Ulema Council
(MUI), oppose her idea.
For her critics, such a proposal is nothing short of "immoral" and "unacceptable"
because it encourages people to engage in free, premarital sex, especially teenagers.
MUI leader Kiai Hajj Amidhan said he received thousands of messages,
including text messages and e-mails, from across the archipelago against the
initiative, which for them will pin an "immoral" label on the country.
For the religious leader, such a policy would encourage extramarital
sex. What is more, in his opinion, there is no evidence that condoms would "be
really effective" against the spread of the disease.
In his statement, Kiai Hajj Amidhan spoke about last year's South Asian
Games in Palembang and Jakarta, where condoms were made available in hotels, nightclubs
and other sensitive locations. For him, the presence of condoms was a clear "incentive"
to engage in "immoral" acts.
One of the staunchest opponents of Minister Mboy's initiative is Rhoma
Irama, a famous dangdut singer, a true icon of Indonesian pop music scene.
Speaking on behalf of Ta'Mir Mosque and the Indonesian Small Mosque
Forum (Fahmi Tamami), he said that the proposal would "inevitably stir people" and
prove unhelpful in the fight against HIV-AIDS.
A devout Muslim, the singer has led a campaign for the moralisation of
the arts scene, including fellow singers who perform scantly or immorally clad.