05/05/2012, 00.00
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Jakarta tells Muslim religious leaders to lower volume of minaret loudspeakers

by Mathias Hariyadi
In a meeting with more than a thousand representatives of the Mosque Council (DMI), Vice President Boediono called for an unwavering fight against fundamentalism. Islam, he said, is a "religion of peace". In his address, he also called for mosques to lower the volume of their loudspeakers, a request rejected by the Ulema Council.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Indonesian Vice President Boediono has appealed to the Indonesian Mosques' Council (DMI) to the lower the volume of mosque loudspeakers when they call the faithful to prayer, a traditional ritual that is carried out five times a day by practicing Muslims. The vice president wants mosque to lower the volume, especially when the call is done at 3 am, which is way before the right time and disturbs most of the population. His request however was met by the steadfast opposition of the country's Ulema Council (MUI), whose answer was an emphatic no to any "lower volume".

The vice president made his appeal to more than a thousand people imams and religious leaders attending a DMI conference that was recently held in East Jakarta. During the event, DMI members elected Jusuf Kalla as their organisation's new president. The latter is the vice president during President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's first term in office.

In his address, Kalla's successor Boediono also urged those present to cooperate with the government in the "fight against extremism" and for the eradication of fundamentalist ideologies.

"We don't want to let our mosques into the wrong people who disseminate false Islamic beliefs, fundamentalism, sectarian ideas, hostile attitudes to others and provocative teachings. All this is irrelevant to the true Islam, which is widely known as a peace-loving religion that boosts the spirit of tolerance."

In addition to a call to arms against radical ideologies that find fertile ground in some mosques and among some imams, the government wants mosques to adjust the volume of mosque loudspeakers during the call to prayer.

For Boediono, the practice known as 'azan' is better when the volume is lower compared to the loud fracas currently heard. With the backing of quotes from the Qur'an, the vice president noted that Muslims are expected to lower their voice and be humble when they are at prayer.

In responding to the vice president's appeal, the Ulema Council (MUI) said it was willing to consider moving the first call to prayer from 3 am to 4.30 am, which is the expected time anyway.

However, the MUI is not prepared to adjust the volume. For the council, which is notorious for its radical positions against yoga, smoking and "immoral" international music stars like Lady Gaga, any lowering of the volume would be counterproductive because Muslims need to be "alerted" to their duties.

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