11/17/2017, 17.11
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Indonesia plans to build a thousand eco-friendly mosques

There are 800,000 mosques in the country. Muslim clerics, the private sector, universities and communities are called to work together. Religious leaders are in favour of environmental understanding and education. The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) has already issued fatwas on forest fires and mining.

Jakarta (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The government of the most populous Islamic country in the world plans to build a thousand eco-friendly mosques by 2020.

Launched this week by Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla, the initiative will push mosque administrators to turn to renewable energy, manage their water and food needs sustainably, reduce and recycle waste as well as provide environmental education.

The project will require Muslim religious leaders co-operate with the private sector, the government's health and planning ministries, universities, and other religious groups in order to raise environmental awareness in communities across the country.

"Most Muslims in Indonesia listen more to religious leaders than the government," said Hayu Prabowo, head of environment and natural resources at the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), speaking to the Thomson Reuters Foundation. "If an Islamic leader says something they will follow but if the government says something, they may not."

The idea of eco-mosques stems from asking how to make mosques the centre for environmental action and education within a community, said Hening Parlan, coordinator for environment and disaster management at Aisyiyah, the women's wing of Indonesia's second-largest Islamic organisation Muhammadiyah.

"For many Indonesians, their understanding of the environment only happens when they see the impact of climate change (rather than through education)," Parlan explained.

Eco-mosques are not the first time MUI has become involved in environmental issues. In the past, it has issued fatwas (edicts) on forest fires and sustainable mining.

Indonesia has more than 800,000 mosques. Government officials hope that this initiative can increase the number of eco-friendly places of worship.

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