Saturday, 27 May 2017

INDONESIA: Discotheques, Massage Parlours And Saunas Banned During Ramadan

Those looking to have fun in the Indonesian capital during Ramadan should go elsewhere. The Jakarta administration has banned nightspots from operating during Ramadan, which is set to begin Saturday.

Places such as discotheques, massage parlours and saunas have been ordered to shut from one day before Ramadan until one day after Eid al-Fitr, a festival marking the end of the holy month, said Catur Laswanto, head of the city's tourism agency.

Eid al-Fitr is from June 25 to 26.

Exceptions are to be made for establishments located in hotels and specially-designated entertainment centres, he said. "The rules are in place so that Muslims can observe the holy month solemnly," he said.

Similar rules also are in place in other cities in Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim-majority country.

In the past, the Muslim vigilante group Islamic Defenders' Front sometimes raided nightspots that remained open during Ramadan, accusing those places of harbouring prostitutes and drug addicts.

But such raids have been rare in recent years after the government cracked down on violators of Ramadan hours and the sale of alcohol.

Mahdi Ba'bud, a local head of the Islamic Defenders' Front in Jakarta, said his group would not conduct any raids this Ramadan. "The police will take action," he said. "We are just watching."

Meanwhile, Two suspected suicide bomb blasts killed three police officers and wounded ten people, including five police officers, at a bus terminal in Jakarta on Wednesday.

Television pictures showed smoke rising from the Kampung Melayu terminal as police cordoned off the area.

National Police spokesman Setyo Wasisto said that after investigating the scene it had been determined there were two suicide bombers, instead of one as original believed. Both the bombers were killed.

The police were guarding a parade ahead of Ramadan, which started on Friday.

"The police officers were on duty to guard a group of people who were holding a parade. The parade hadn't passed yet when the blast happened," Wasisto said at a news conference.

Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim country.

On Friday, the so-called "Islamic State" extremist group claimed responsibility for the attack.

Indonesian police arrested three suspects for alleged involvement in the blasts. They were detained at three different sites in Bandung, the capital of West Java province, police spokesman Yusri Yunus said on Friday. "The roles of each individual and their group are still being investigated," he said.

Jakarta threatens to 'clobber' extremists

Increasing Islamic militancy spread from the Middle East has raised concerns over Indonesia's traditionally moderate form of Islam.

Indonesia has been hit by a series of Islamic militant attacks in the past 15 years, including the 2002 Bali bombings, in which 202 people, mostly foreign tourists, were killed.

A gun and suicide attack in Jakarta in January last year, which left left four attackers and four civilians dead, was the first assault claimed by the Islamic State group in Southeast Asia.

President Joko Widodo said on Wednesday authorities would "clobber" any religious group threatening the country's moderate Islam and tradition of pluralism.

Earlier this month officials said they would close down Hizb ut-Tahrir Indonesia, a hardline Islamist group that calls for sharia law.

Another group, the Islamic Defenders' Forum (FPI), led rallies against Jakarta's former governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama that polarized the nation. A Chinese Christian, he was sentenced to two years in prison this month for insulting the Quran.