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Jakarta Post

Mass Idul Fitri prayers against law, govt says

  • Moch. Fiqih Prawira Adjie

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, May 19, 2020   /   08:06 pm
Mass Idul Fitri prayers against law, govt says Muslims hold Friday prayers in Agung Grand Mosque in Malang, East Java, on March 27 amid calls for physical distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19. (JP/Nedi Putra AW)

Mass Idul Fitri prayers, such as those in mosques or public squares, are currently prohibited by public health laws, Coordinating Legal, Political and Human Rights Minister Mahfud MD said on Tuesday.

Mahfud said that all mass religious activities, including congregational prayers, were banned for the time being under the Health Ministry’s regulation on large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) and the 2018 Health Quarantine Law.

“The government strongly asks that [the public] does not violate these provisions,” Mahfud said after a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday. 

“The government requests and invites religious leaders, organizations and traditional community leaders to convince the community that mass congregational prayers are prohibited by law, not because of the prayer itself but because it is part of the effort to avoid disaster,” he added.

Mahfud said that the country’s largest mass religious organizations, namely the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), Nadhlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah, were encouraging Muslims to pray at home during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The MUI, chaired by Vice President Ma’ruf Amin, has issued several fatwas on Islamic prayer during the COVID-19 outbreak, including one on how to perform Idul Fitri prayers at home issued on May 13.

Religious Affairs Minister Fachrul Razi said that while the government had initially only advised against mass Idul Fitri prayers, its level of enforcement had changed because the country was still seeing a virus reproduction rate (R0) of 1.11.

Fachrul added that, according to a prediction by the National Intelligence Agency, congregational Idul Fitri prayers would cause COVID-19 transmission to spike.

“So we took out the word ‘advice’, just like the Coordinating Legal, Political and Human Rights Minister. We should follow the laws and regulations,” he said.

As of Tuesday, Indonesia had recorded 18,496 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 1,221 deaths.