11/22/2013, 00.00
INDONESIA - ISLAM
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Indonesian Ulema want mosques in Madura Island hotels "to fight vice and immorality"

by Mathias Hariyadi
A MUI spokesman calls on resorts and hotels to set aside space for worship to preserve the island's purity and Muslim traditions, which are being threatened by an influx of tourists from Java. A guidebook will be shortly released showing how to build the perfect 'mushola'.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Known for its contentious initiatives and many controversies, the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) has launched a new campaign to get hotels and holiday resorts on Madura Island (East Java province) to become more Islamic and provide space for traditional Muslim prayers.

Until recently, nobody had actually asked for a place of worship, nor was it required by law. However, demands to this effect have been made, especially by extremist movements who want to have them enshrined in law.

Recently, the MUI chapter in Madura called on hotels and resorts on the island to set aside space for a 'mushola' or small mosque, where employees and customers could pray. The goal is to make this a mandatory requirement under a law defined by Islamists themselves.

Rahbini Ali Abdul Latief, MUI spokesperson on Madura, said that a guidebook with instructions on how to build a "mushola" would be soon released, showing hotels what rules to follow in terms of building and furniture design. Once established, such places would open whenever there is a call to prayer.

For the MUI leader, it is imperative to save the "Islamic" nature, customs and traditions of Madura Island before they are corrupted or lost.

With the construction of Suramadu Bridge, which connects the island to Java, a stream of people has brought "moral disorder" to the island, threatening its pure and original soul.

So far, hotels have not expressed any objections to such a proposal, the MUI spokesperson noted, which, after all, only seeks to safeguard the island's Islamic character. And if the idea works here, it could be "applied to the province of East Java."

This way, hotels would no longer be seen as dens of vice and sin, where people have sex and engage in practices that are contrary to Muslim custom, morals and traditions.

Although the world's most populous Muslim nation, Indonesia has a constitution that recognises basic personal freedoms (including freedom of religion). However, in its recent past, it has seen a rising wave of violence and abuse against minorities, like Christians, Ahmadi Muslims and others.

In the recent past, the authorities have often given in under pressure from the MUI, which acts as the country's morality watchdog. For instance, in Islamist-ruled Aceh province, women cannot wear tight pants or skirts.

In March 2011, the MUI attacked flag-raising because "Muhammad never raised one". On other occasions, it lashed out at popular social networking site Facebook as "amoral" as well as yoga, smoking, and the right to vote, especially for women.

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