The Jakarta Post
Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin has called on the public to respect Muslims who choose to wear niqab amid rising security concerns over the use of the face veil on the heels of a series of deadly bombings in East Java.
“We have to respect those who wear niqab, just as we respect those who wear other religious attributes,” the minister said as quoted by Antara on Friday.
Lukman acknowledged that the bombings in Surabaya had triggered suspicions against women in niqab. It was reported that the female members of the family responsible for the bombings at three churches in Surabaya last Sunday wore face veils when they carried out the attack.
The female suicide bombers have been identified as Puji Kuswati and her two daughters. Puji did not usually wear niqab, her neighbors said.
The minister said it was unfair to generalize all niqab-wearing Muslims as terrorists, as those who wore them believed it was a religious obligation.
Most Indonesian Muslims practice a moderate form of Islam and believe that wearing niqab is not compulsory or even excessive. However the Muslim garment has become more popular in recent years, with women wearing the veil now more visible in public spaces, particularly universities.
Lukman encouraged niqab-wearing women to mingle with their community to avoid suspicion, saying that mutual respect was what was needed now.
“Both sides have the obligation to create a sense of security.” (ahw)