12/30/2014, 00.00
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Aceh, Islamic authorities forbid New Year celebrations

by Mathias Hariyadi
New Year celebrations do not coincide with the Islamic calendar and are "contrary to Muslim culture". The prohibition to celebrate was issued by the mayor of Banda Aceh, and immediately supported by local authorities. Citizens of other religions "must show respect".

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - In Aceh Province - the only Indonesian province in which Sharia, or Islamic law, is implemented - New Year celebrations are banned. The prohibition was released two days ago by Illiza Sa'aduddin Djamal, mayor of Banda Aceh, who explained that Muslims are forbidden to celebrate the new year, because it does not coincide with the Islamic calendar. The ban was immediately supported by local authorities.

The celebration of the new year, she added, "is not a religious event, but just a profane and worldly event where people only enjoy the transfer of a new day with hurrahs. Cafés and night spots are told to stop their operation". For this reason, Illiza Sa'aduddin Djamal has also forbidden all religious activities.

Police have been ordered to confiscate fireworks or other such material for the festivities. "All events related to New Year celebrations are contrary to Islamic culture. Non-Muslim citizens of Banda Aceh will have to show respect".

Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, is often the scene of attacks or acts of intolerance against minorities, be they Christians, Ahmadi Muslims or of other faiths. In Aceh Province - the only one in the Archipelago - Islamic law (Shari'a) is implemented, following a peace agreement between the central Government and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM); in many other areas (such as Bekasi and Bogor in West Java) an increasingly radical and extreme vision of Islam is becoming prominent.



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