The Jakarta Post
The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) has announced that mudik (mass exodus) from areas affected by the COVID-19 pandemic is haram – forbidden under Islamic law.
"Mudik from one COVID-19-free city to another is OK, but mudik from areas affected by COVID-19 could cause the mudik travelers to spread the disease to other people. Since [the virus] is very contagious and dangerous, it means people who insist on going on mudik will have done something haram," MUI secretary-general Anwar Abbas said in a statement on Friday.
"There's a hadith that says going to pandemic-affected areas or leaving them is forbidden. Breaking religious rules and medical protocols is clearly dangerous and could endanger one’s own life as well as other people," he said.
Anwar Abbas said the declaration was not a fatwa (religious order by a Muslim leader), but instead his personal opinion after consulting the Quran, the hadith, and other fatwas issued by the MUI.
Annually, some 20 million people from Greater Jakarta travel to their hometowns to celebrate Idul Fitri.
Despite the fact that Greater Jakarta is the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has decided not to impose a ban on mudik for economic reasons.
“[The President] underlines that there is no official ban on people going mudik during the 2020 Idul Fitri holiday period. The travelers, however, must self-isolate for 14 days, will be treated as people under monitoring [ODP], as per the World Health Organization protocol and will be observed by their respective local administrations,” presidential spokesman Fadjroel Rachman said in a statement on Thursday, shortly after a speech by the President on the matter.
Thousands of people from Greater Jakarta have already gone on mudik as they have been deprived of their livelihood due to large-scale physical distancing policies.
Several regional leaders have discouraged mudik from Greater Jakarta due to concerns about a possible explosion of coronavirus cases throughout the country in the wake of the exodus.
On Thursday, West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil posted on Facebook a news story about a 72-year-old stroke patient from Ciamis who tested positive for COVID-19 after having contact with his child, who had come from virus-stricken Jakarta.
“This story is one of many cases of parents in West Java who become COVID-19 positive after being visited by their children or relatives who are unaware that they are carrying the virus to their hometowns,” he said. “Restrain yourselves and love your parents. Don’t go home now.”
Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo has urged residents working in Jakarta not to return home and has demanded residents of the province not to go to the capital city.
“Stay at home unless it's very urgent. And please end the stigma against COVID-19 patients. They need our prayers and support,” he said.