JAKARTA - The Executive Office of the President (KSP) took the initiative to hold a virtual gathering and dialogue with prominent Islamic clerics in Indonesia on Thursday (15/7) to further prevent a surge in public activity and mobility ahead of the celebration of Eid al-Adha which will fall on Tuesday (20/7)
"The government will not be able to deal with this pandemic situation alone, the participation of public society in the battle against COVID-19 is very much needed. Therefore, we invite religious leaders to further encourage the involvement of public society in COVID-19’s response," said the Chief of Staff Moeldoko during the opening speech.
The meeting was attended by the Coordinating Minister for Human Development and Culture (Menko PMK) Muhadjir Effendy, the Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs (Menkopolhukam) Mahfud MD and 10 Islamic religious leaders who came from all over Indonesia.
According to Moeldoko, the virtual meeting was meant to establish a close relationship and an open communication between the government and religious leaders in order to foster mutual trust with one another. In addition, the government also wants to get input from the community in relation to the implementation of the emergency public activity restrictions (PPKM Darurat) and the overall government’s responses to the COVID-19 crisis.
"We are inviting religious leaders to build positive and constructive public narratives in order to increase public awareness in suppressing the surge of Covid-19 cases," added the Chief of Staff.
To prevent a spike in activity and crowds, the Ministry of Religious Affairs has issued a circular (SE) Number 17/2021 on the temporary ban of religious rituals in places of worship, eve celebration of Eid al-Adha, Eid al-Adha public prayers, and guidelines for the implementation of animal sacrifice (qurban) in areas impacted by the emergency curbs.
This restriction was not carried out without reason, considering that data from the National COVID-19 Task Force on Wednesday (14/7) reported a record high additional daily COVID-19 cases which reached 54,517 positive cases. "This should be a danger alarm for all of us," said Moeldoko.
Meanwhile, ulema and religious leaders also appreciated the initiative and expressed their willingness to participate in the prevention of COVID-19 transmission, especially ahead of this Eid al-Adha celebration by calling on Muslims about the importance of maintaining health protocols and paying attention to the critical situation of the pandemic. However, religious leaders also criticized the government for issuing insensitive narratives especially in relation to the temporary ban of public prayers during the PPKM.
As stated by Nyai Badriyah Fayumi from Mahasina Bekasi Madrasa, the government needs to work with the community and local leaders, as well as learn to avoid terms such as "restrictions to pray in mosques" or "restrictions on public worship" that might spark a wave of rejection instead of obedience. In addition, “The military personnel should not be less sensitive in the field and it is regrettable that their appeals sometimes contain violence. This is what we need to anticipate in such a way, so that there will be no impression that the government is against Muslims,” suggested Prof. Dr. Abdul Mu'ti, General Secretary of Muhammadiyah. Prof. Dr. Azyumardi Azra, a prominent Muslim scholar and a Professor at Hidayatullah State Islamic University (UIN Jakarta) also suggested the need for a dialogue forum that includes leaders from five other religions to ensure inclusiveness for people of other religions.