Headlines

‘Lavish’ New Year celebrations
banned in Aceh

Many people in Aceh intend to enjoy New Year’s Eve in their own way despite the local authorities’ usual ban on celebrations.

The Aceh administration, which has implemented sharia since 2002, has banned New Year’s Eve celebrations in any form including using fireworks, holding open-air music concerts or blowing trumpets.

But for Irma, who admitted to not knowing about the ban, blowing trumpets is not against Islamic law.

She intends to buy her son one while out for a stroll during New Year’s Eve.

“As long as it is not against religion, I will not take the ban seriously,” she said.

Agus, who sells trumpets and fireworks, described the ban as weird.

“It’s weird if people are banned from celebrating New Year. It’s very unlikely the police will prevent people’s celebrations,” he said, adding that he had never been troubled by official raids.

As in the past, the authorities have reiterated their prohibitions on Saturday’s celebrations.

“We have issued the ban and told the people not to celebrate the year’s changeover lavishly, that is against Islamic law,” Tgk. Muslim Ibrahim, chairman of the Ulema Assembly (MPU), said in Banda Aceh on
Friday.

Apart from opposing licenses for entertainment shows, the assembly also appealed to the people not to set off fireworks.

Muslim told the people to mark New Year’s Eve by holding invocations, saying prayers, reciting the Koran or preaching. He said the moment should be used as a new beginning for a better future.

“They’d be better staying at home, reciting the Koran and praying for betterment next year,” he said.

To ensure the ban is adhered to, the assembly will coordinate with religious police and Public Order personnel (Satpol PP) to carry out surveillance of thoroughfares in all cities in the province.

“We have also asked for support from Islamic organizations to carry out joint monitoring of any violations,” Muslim said.

Deputy Mayor Illiza Saaduddin said that the religious police and Satpol PP would patrol routinely on Saturday.

Outside Aceh, revelers are looking forward to the celebrations but within limits.

In Jakarta, the Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Baharuddin Djafar reaffirmed that the police would not close any of the city’s main thoroughfares during New Year’s Eve.

“We will keep it under consideration, but currently, there are no plans to divert traffic. We will do it only if it is really necessary,” he told reporters at the police headquarters.

The police are expecting thoroughfares surrounding the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle and the National Monument Park in Central Jakarta, as well as Ancol Dreamland in North Jakarta, to be severely congested during the night’s celebrations.

The Indonesia Miniature Park (TMII) in East Jakarta, Ragunan Zoo in South Jakarta, along with Ancol Dreamland, are also expected to be jam-packed with visitors on New Year’s Day.

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