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» 06/20/2012
INDONESIA
Islamists attack Health minister over condoms
by Mathias Hariyadi
New Health Minister Nafsiah Mboy, a pediatrician, wants to generalise the use of condom to stop the spread of AIDS. Ulema Council calls the proposal "immoral," an encouragement to extramarital and premarital sex. A famous pop artist backs ulemas' fight.

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 infectious disease.

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.


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See also
11/24/2004 CHINA
Fired and tortured for having a second child
11/02/2004 INDONESIA
Malnutrition kills 26 children
06/16/2005 Indonesia
Indonesia, first human case of bird flu
11/10/2004 INDONESIA
Protestant clergyman from Central Sulawesi released
03/11/2006 INDONESIA
Extremist Muslims force a Catholic "home" church to shut down
by Benteng Reges

Editor's choices
VATICAN
Pope: I am with the persecuted Christians of Mosul and the Middle East "May the God of peace inspire in all a genuine desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence is never defeated with violence. Violence is defeated with peace." At the Sunday Angelus Francis comments on the parable of the wheat and the weeds. God is "patient" He knows "the same weeds in the end, may become good wheat". But "at the time of the harvest, that is, of judgment, the reapers will execute the order of the master separating the weeds to be burned".
CHINA - VATICAN
Beijing, seminarians desert graduation ceremony: We will not celebrate Mass with illegitimate bishops The rector of the seminary is the illegitimate bishop Joseph Ma Yinglin: Students refuse to concelebrate with him and reject Msgr. Fang Xingyao, who has participated in several illegal episcopal ordinations. The directors close the year without awarding diplomas and send students home: rumors of some courses being "suspended" in September. The precedent of 2000, when 130 young students chose fidelity to the Pope over compromise with the government.
HONG KONG-CHINA-VATICAN
Card Zen: Religious freedom and civil liberties are united, for China and Hong Kong
by Bernardo CervelleraA wide ranging conversation with the bishop emeritus of Hong Kong: the courage of Msgr. Ma Daqin, who sent a message to Pope Francis; underground Catholics are also prepared to be arrested; suspicions about Beijing’s sincerity towards possible dialogue with the Holy See. And in Hong Kong, the march for a referendum on democracy; support for "Occupy Central"; the fear of the government and arrests. Card. Zen reaffirms that religious freedom and civil liberties go hand in hand.

Dossier
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pp. 176
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pp. 240
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