Religious affairs minister urges people not to conduct sweep

"According to me, there is no need for mass organizations to conduct a sweep, because if they do, there could be anarchy. If one mass organization is allowed to do it, others will follow. This is not good," the minister said.
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesias Minister of Religious Affairs Lukman Hakim Saifudin urged mass organizations in the country here on Tuesday not to conduct a sweep against Christmas icons and celebrations.

"According to me, there is no need for mass organizations to conduct a sweep, because if they do, there could be anarchy. If one mass organization is allowed to do it, others will follow. This is not good," he said.

He stressed that mass organizations cannot conduct a sweep because such activities use violence to force submission.

He said forceful efforts or actions that may result in violence could only be handled by law enforcement officials within the confines of the law.

Regarding the recent edict from the Indonesian Council of Ulemas (MUI) banning Muslims from wearing non-Islamic items, the minister claimed it only applied to those Muslims who have asked for it.

"So those who have not asked for it are not obliged to obey it," he stated.

Several people in the country have protested against the Islam Defenders Front, mainly through social media, because of the sweep it conducted at shopping centers in Surabaya, East Java, on Sunday (Dec 18).

On Monday (Dec 19), Indonesia Police Chief General Tito Karnavian banned all community groups from conducting a sweep against Christmas decor at shopping centers or company offices in connection with the MUIs edict.

The MUI had recently delivered an edict (fatwa) prohibiting Muslims from wearing non-Muslim items.

"Wearing non-Muslim religious icons is against religious law," MUIs head of Fatwa Affairs Hasanuddin said in a fatwa publication received here on Wednesday.

He noted that, of late, hotels, supermarkets, department stores, restaurants, and other businesses have been asking their Muslim employees to wear non-Muslim religious icons to highlight religious events.

Company managers should allow Muslim employees to dress according to their religious convictions and should not force them to wear non-Muslim religious icons, he stated.

He added that orders or requests that flout this are also against Islamic law.

He hoped the government would protect Muslims in carrying out their religious obligations.

Police in Central Java on Sunday arrested five members of the Laskar Umat Islam Surakarta (LUIS) in connection with vandalism at Social Kitchen Restaurant in Solo.

"Today, a joint team from the Central Java and Surakarta resort police commands arrested five people who are members of LUIS for vandalizing the Social Kitchen amusement park," Head of Indonesia Polices Public Information Senior Commissioner Rikwanto remarked here.

He said four people had been arrested in different locations. The head of LUIS, Edi Lukito, was arrested in Sumber Village, and Joko Sutarta, a LUIS advocate, was arrested at his home in the Kusumodilagan neighborhood of Pasarkliwon, Surakarta.

Meanwhile, LUIS spokesman Endro Sudarsono was arrested at his house in Ngruki Cemani, Grogol, Sukoharjo, Central Java, while LUIS secretary Yusuf Suparno was captured at his house in Pringgolayan, Surakarta. The police have also arrested Salman Alfarisi, a LUIS teacher.

"They have all been taken to the Central Java Police Command for further investigation," he confirmed.

Besides vandalizing the restaurant, it is believed the group also attacked visitors and wounded them.(*)

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