Indonesian cops ignore fatwa

JAKARTA, Dec 21 – National Police chief Gen Tito Karnavian has ordered the chiefs of police in Bekasi, West Java, and Kulonprogo of Yogyakarta to revoke circulars on the ban on wearing Christmas attributes based on a fatwa of the Indonesian Ulama Council (MUI).

“I have asked them (the chiefs of police in Bekasi and Kulonprogo) to revoke the circulars,” Gen Tito said at Jakarta State University campus in East Jakarta on Monday as reported by kompas.com.

He stated that the MUI fatwa was not a law, merely a reference that could be used as coordination among police offices.

“I have firmly warned the Bekasi Police chief and Kulonprogo Police chief. I warned them because it’s not permitted to issue circulars based on an MUI fatwa,” Gen Tito.

“So, a MUI fatwa is not statutory law that should be upheld.

“(The police) should not issue circulars that could become a legal document,” he added.

Bekasi Police reportedly issued a circular on Dec 15 while Kulonprogo Police released a circular on Dec 17, in which both instructed owners and management of businesses not to force their employees to wear Christmas attributes.

Meawhile, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo instructed Gen Tito to uphold discipline among members of the force and make efforts to prevent their power from being abused by hardline groups, in light of the decision of some local police leaders to back a campaign by firebrand Muslim groups to crack down on Christmas celebrations.

During a meeting with Gen Tito at the State Palace on Monday, Jokowi said that the police force must work only to implement official rules and regulations.

“Our existing rules are laws, government regulations, presidential regulations, ministerial regulations and so on, including a regulation from the police chief himself.

“That should be the ground rule,” Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung said.

Over the weekend, police in Surabaya, East Java, also came under fire for their failure to prevent members of the hardline Islam Defenders Front (FPI) from cracking down on business establishments that allowed their employees to wear Christmas attributes.

Gen Tito also ordered members of the corps to keep an eye on groups that carried out intolerant acts under the guise of publicity programmes for the MUI edicts.

“If we find some groups that carry out raids while claiming to be conducting ‘familiarisation’, but in fact bring fear to people, we must take the initiative to stop them,” Gen Tito said.

“We shouldn’t bow to those groups,” he added.

The police chief said that he would discuss the issue with the MUI in the coming days.

“I will talk with the MUI so that they take tolerance and Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (the country’s motto of “unity in diversity”) into consideration when they want to issue a fatwa,” he added. — The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network


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