Syamsul Huda M. Suhari, Gorontalo – Bone Bolango regency in the muslim-majority province of Gorontalo has officially banned New Year's celebrations on the grounds that they are against sharia law.
The regency has sent public offices, heads of state and private universities, as well as heads of regional-owned companies across the regency, a letter banning public officials and university students from being involved in any New Year's Eve celebrations that violate Islamic teachings.
"It is urged that you instruct all staff or students not to hold any kind of New Year's Eve celebrations that are against Islamic sharia law," said the letter signed by Bone Bolango regional secretary Ishak Ntoma on Dec. 27.
A copy of the letter went viral, creating sparked debate among Gorontalo locals on social media.
Gorontalo resident Fuad Pantoiyo said on his Facebook account "I 100 percent agree with the instruction", followed by the hashtag #SayaMuslim (I am a Muslim).
Some expressed their concerns over the instruction, for instance, Samsi Pomalingo, a lecturer at Gorontalo State University, who said it might "hinder relations among people of different religions."
Djemi Radji from Gusdurian Network, which often campaigns for pluralism, called on the regency to review the instruction.
Gorontalo regency, another regency in the province, has issued an instruction suggesting that Muslims welcome 2018 by holding dzikir (chants in praise of God) in mosques.
Gorontalo Regent Nelson Pomalingo said, however, people were allowed to hold celebrations. "But please respect the public order. Any celebrations should not involve alcoholic beverages and drugs," he said. (vla/ipa)