Jakarta (ANTARA) - Vice President Ma'ruf Amin has pledged that he would encourage the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) to issue a fatwa (religious order) declaring embarking on “mudik” to celebrate Idul Fitri as “haram”, or forbidden, under Islamic law.

"We (the central government) have encouraged the MUI to declare that embarking on 'mudik' at this time would be 'haram'. I will again try to encourage the MUI to issue (the fatwa)," he said during a video conference on Friday with West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil.

"Mudik" refers to the annual exodus of citizens to their hometowns to celebrate Idul Fitri with their extended families and colleagues.

Ma'ruf Amin argued that proceeding on "mudik" amid the current coronavirus crisis — witnessed in Indonesia and many other parts of the world — could potentially expand the contagion area.

Therefore, the Vice President has asked Governor Ridwan Kamil to take preventive measures on the arrivals of visitors seeking to celebrate Idul Fitri in West Java, as well as the visits of foreign migrant workers to the province.

The Indonesian Government has decided against banning "mudik" though it has strongly appealed to citizens, especially Jakarta residents, to not return to their hometowns for Idul Fitri this year owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister Luhut Binsar Panjaitan notified journalists of the government's decision via a video conference after a virtual meeting chaired by President Joko Widodo, on Thursday in Jakarta.

Panjaitan pointed out that the government's official stance on “mudik” does not pertain to banning it. Instead, the government, along with community figures, have advised people against returning to their hometowns to ensure everyone’s safety.

This year, the Idul Fitri holidays will fall on May 24-25. The Muslim festivity marks the end of the holy month of Ramadhan, when Muslims around the world go on a fast.

For millions of Indonesian Muslims, including those living in Jakarta and its outskirts, returning to their hometowns in the islands of Java and Sumatra during the "mudik" period has become an annual tradition.

The new coronavirus disease that first struck the Chinese city of Wuhan at the end of 2019 has infected more than one million people globally, stated CNN, citing data released by the Johns Hopkins University on April 2, 2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic has spread to various parts of Indonesia. As of April 2, there have been 1,790 confirmed cases in the country and 170 deaths. A total of 112 patients have been discharged from hospitals after recovering from the disease.

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Translator: Fransiska N, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Gusti Nur Cahya Aryani
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