Indonesia: Jakarta Governor Attends Islamic Party for 10,000 but Bans Christmas

Supporters of Rizieq Shihab, leader of the Indonesian hardline organisation FPI (Front Pembela Islam or Islamic Defenders Front), rally outside their headquarters in Jakarta on November 10, 2020, following their leader's return from Saudi Arabia. (Photo by BAY ISMOYO / AFP) / The erroneous mention[s] appearing in the metadata of …
BAY ISMOYO/AFP via Getty Images

Jakarta’s deputy governor banned Christmas and New Year events in the Indonesian capital this holiday season in an announcement Monday.

“There is no mass mobilization like in previous years, music concerts, cultural concerts, dances, songs and so on; this year, there is no more,” Jakarta Deputy Gov. Ahmad Riza Patria, or Ariza, told reporters by telephone on Monday.

Ariza revealed the ban on holiday gatherings “when answering a question regarding the potential for an increase in positive confirmation cases of Covid-19 [Chinese coronavirus] in the Capital City ahead of the upcoming Christmas and New Year 2021,” Indonesia’s Bisnis reported.

“What is certain is that this New Year will not have a celebration like the previous years. We will carry it out according to the Covid-19 protocol,” Ariza added.

Local news outlet Coconuts noted the hypocrisy of Ariza’s ban on Christian holiday gatherings on Tuesday, pointing out that just two days before the deputy governor announced the ban on Christmas and New Year events, he attended a massive Islamic celebration in Jakarta attended by at least 10,000 people.

“Based on the permit received by Setiyanto [a local government leader], the number of congregants present was estimated at 10,000 at the FPI [Front Pembala Islam] Headquarters,” Bisnis reported of the mass gathering, held on November 14 in central Jakarta in honor of the Islamic prophet Muhammad’s birthday.

FPI is known in English as the Islamic Defenders Front and is an Islamist political organization in Indonesia, a majority Muslim country.

The head of Indonesia’s coronavirus task force and chief of the Indonesian National Board for Disaster Management (BNPB), Doni Monardo, “confirmed that his party provided 20,000 masks to FPI” for the November 14 event, Bisnis further reported.

The revelation that the FPI ordered 20,000 masks seems to indicate that more than 10,000 people attended Saturday’s event, or that the organization held more than one mass gathering over the weekend.

“It is true that the Covid-19 Handling Task Force provided cloth masks and medical masks to the Task Force who manages or the Prophet’s birthday committee and the committee for the celebration of the marriage contract [sic],” Monardo said at a press conference on November 14.

Ariza not only attended Saturday’s massive Islamic gathering but “also reportedly gave a welcoming speech at the event, in which he praised [FPI leader Shihab] Rizieq,” Coconuts Jakarta revealed.

“The Jakarta Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) fined Rizieq IDR50 million (US$3,540) for the weekend mass gatherings, which the firebrand cleric [Rizieq] has reportedly paid,” the news outlet added.

“Jakarta Metro Police Chief Nana Sudjana has been reassigned following the controversy, becoming one of several high ranking officials to take the fall for Rizieq’s crowds thus far. The National Police said other officials, including Jakarta Gov. Anies Baswedan, may be investigated for violation of the health quarantine law by allowing Rizieq to hold his events,” Coconuts Jakarta reported.

Jakarta documented 1,037 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, raising its total number of infections to 120,670.


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