FPI demands business closures for Ramadan

July 18, 2012
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JAKARTA, Indonesia – With Ramadan approaching, the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) is threatening to use force to prevent food vendors, restaurants and other businesses from operating in daylight hours during the Islamic holy month, The Jakarta Globe reported Monday (July 16th).

The hardline group is also demanding that women wear modest clothes to prevent people from having "perverse thoughts", according to The Globe.

"Everything must close without exception," the paper quoted Abdurrahman, the chairman of the FPI’s South Sulawesi branch, as saying on Sunday. Over the weekend, FPI members reportedly paraded around the city of Makassar in order to pressure local businesses into compliance.

According to The Jakarta Post, meanwhile, the Indonesian authorities said that they would forbid mass organisations from conducting private raids in order to force Ramadan closures. Enforcing the rules is a job for the police, and not for a group such as the FPI, the paper quoted authorities as saying.

"Only the police have the right to raid nightclubs that remain open during Ramadan. No mass organisation has such rights," police spokesman Senior Commander Rikwanto said.

Ramadan is expected to begin Thursday or Friday, subject to moon sighting. Bylaws are already in place for closures of certain businesses during the fast. Nightclubs, spas, saunas, massage parlours, arcade game centres and bars all fall under the law, according to The Post. Some forms of entertainment, including karaoke and live music lounges will be allowed to open at night.

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Do you support campaigns by vigilante groups such as FPI to crack down on bars and restaurants that they believe are violating Islamic norms?

Photo Essay

Members of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) attend a 2010 rally in front of Indonesia's constitutional court as it debates a law on blasphemy. The FPI, a hardline group known for its vigilante-style attacks on businesses and individuals, has been accused of undermining democracy and rule of law in Indonesia. [Adek Berry/AFP]

Indonesia's Islamist vigilantes: a threat to rule of law?