08/03/2011, 00.00
INDONESIA

Mandatory veil and fasting as Indonesia is ‘Islamised’ during Ramadan

by Mathias Hariyadi
Pamekasan District chief imposes jilbab on female public servants. Restaurants are closed during the day for a whole month. Nightclubs shut down as Muslim fundamentalists go after those who break the rules. On Sumatra Island, civil servants are fired if they break the fast.
Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Wearing the veil for female public servants and fasting, including job loss if caught eating, are becoming compulsory in Indonesia. In some parts of the country, Ramadan has become a time of Islamisation with rules increasingly inspired by Sharia. For the authorities, fasting and praying have become compulsory, forcing Muslims to abstain from food and drink from dawn to dusk.

On Madura Island (East Java Province), Pamekasan District chief Kusairi issued a directive whereby all female employees must wear the jilbab, or headscarf. In order to promote conformity with Islamic principles, women street vendors have to conform to the obligation. For Kusairi, this will strengthen Muslim women’s faith.

Restaurants and nightclubs will also have to obey the rules. During Ramadan, such places must be closed during the day until dusk. Clubs, bars and places of nightly entertainment will close for the entire month.

Representatives of the extremist Islamic Defence Front (FPI) are out at night to strike against rule-breakers.

In Bengkulu District (Sumatra), Mayor Ahmad Kanesi said that any municipal workers caught breaking the fast would be fired. He offered a 1 million rupiah (US$ 118) reward to anyone who caught a Bengkulu civil servant breaking the fast.

With an estimated population of 231 million people (2009), Indonesia is the biggest Muslim country in the world. However, it is made up of different ethnic groups and has significant religious minorities.

Muslims (mostly Sunnis) represent 87 per cent of the total. Protestants are about 6.1 per cent whilst Catholics are 4 per cent. Hindus and Buddhists represent about 1 per cent.
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