The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), the nation’s top Muslim cleric group, issued a fatwa recently prohibiting companies from forcing employees to dress as Santa Claus or wear Christmas-related clothing.
MUI claims that the fatwa respects Indonesia’s diversity, while human rights activists challenged the council, stating it failed to anticipate the fatwa’s destructive effects.
Meanwhile, Islamic groups last week protested in shopping areas in Surabaya, East Java, and Solo, Central Java, urging Muslims to not deliver Christmas wishes nor wear clothing and accessories tied to Christmas and New Year.
Activists and political analysts said the MUI fatwa was done out of political interest.
Freedom Institute research associate Luthfi Assyaukanie has voiced concerns over MUI fatwas in the past few years.
“Before the reformation era (beginning in 1998), MUI issued few fatwas. The only controversial one regarding pluralism was the ban on Muslims from delivering Christmas wishes to Christians, issued by Buya Hamka in 1981,” Luthfi told BenarNews.
“Now almost every year, MUI issued controversial fatwas because there is no authority that has the right to control it anymore,” he said.
Hendardi, chairman of the human rights organization SETARA Institute, said the fatwas failed to represent Islamic efforts in supporting tolerance.
“MUI is focusing more on strengthening its political influence, including the fatwa which labels some groups as deviant and forces the government to recognize the fatwa,” Hendardi said in a statement.
Full story: BenarNews
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