Konradus Epa, Jakarta – Indonesia's top Muslim clerical body has urged Islamic groups not to target restaurants and street food stalls serving meals to non-Muslims in daylight hours during the holy month of Ramadan which begins next week.
The Indonesia Ulema Council (MUI) said on March 28 that food outlets should not be forced to close to respect those who don't have to fast, including Catholics.
The call followed an attempt by the council's branch in West Java province's Bekasi district to ban restaurants, cafes and stalls from opening during Ramadan
"Restaurants and street food stalls, however, should self-regulate so that there's no inconvenience to those who are fasting and those who aren't," MUI general secretary Amirsyah Tambunan said.
He said vendors should be able to sell meals during Ramadan to help their families who are suffering economically due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
"The MUI doesn't ban people from selling meals during the holy month of Ramadan," he said.
Muslims in Indonesia fast from 4.30am to 6pm during Ramadan. This year Ramadan begins on April 2 and ends with the Eid al-Fitr festival on May 2-3.
Fasting during Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, is obligatory for all adult Muslims except those who are elderly, sick or traveling.
Bonar Tigor Naipospos, deputy chairman of the Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace, welcomed the MUI's call.
"It is a good move that will help to strengthen tolerance among different religions in Indonesia," Naipospos told UCA News on March 29.
Any attempt by hardliners to force food outlets to close must be swiftly dealt with, he said.
Father Antonius Suyadi, chairman of Jakarta Archdiocese's Ecumenical and Inter-religious Affairs Commission, also welcomed the call.
"It shows respect for other religions," Father Suyadi said. "Catholics, likewise should respect our Muslim brothers and sisters and give them mutual support during Ramadan."