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District head in S. Sulawesi reported for blasphemy after dispersing Friday prayer

Jakarta Post - May 2, 2020

Jakarta – The congregation body of the Ar-Rahmah mosque in Ujung district of Parepare city, South Sulawesi, reported district head Ulfa Lanto to the police for blasphemy after he had dispersed a Friday prayer gathering.

On April 17, Ulfa and a number of COVID-19 task force personnel as well as local authorities conducted checks on mosques in the district to ensure Muslims in the area did not congregate for Friday prayers, so as to abide by the government's appeal for physical distancing.

However, the residents reportedly thronged to the Ar-Rahmah mosque as usual, prompting Ulfa to ask the local figures to stop the mass prayer while the sermon was ongoing.

Makmur Raona, a lawyer representing the congregation body, confirmed on Thursday that they had reported Ulfa and another local figure, Anas Hindi, to the police on April 28.

He said many residents deemed the dismissal of Friday prayers intolerable and urged the police to take legal action over the incident.

"This is not an attack against an individual but against a religion recognized in this country," Makmur said as quoted by tribunnews.com on Thursday.

Parepare Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Budi Susanto confirmed the report. "We're investigating the case. We have questioned five people [on Thursday]," he said.

Friday prayer is obligatory for Muslim men and is accompanied by a mandatory sermon that can last up to 45 minutes.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, however, authorities and ulemas have called on Muslims to refrain from gathering in congregations and to pray from home instead, including for Friday prayers.

Last month, the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) issued a fatwa on compulsory Muslim prayers during the pandemic, advising Muslims in areas where COVID-19 had spread "uncontrollably" not to "perform Friday prayers in those areas until the situation returns to normal". (aly)

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2020/05/02/district-head-in-s-sulawesi-reported-for-blasphemy-after-dispersing-friday-prayer.html