'Sinful' bars targeted as Ramadan begins

2013-07-10 11:02
Gallery  |  click on thumbnail to view larger image

Eid al-Fitr in pictures

Muslims across the world are celebrating the three-day festival of Eid-al-Fitr, marking the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan.

Jakarta - Muslims in much of Asia began celebrating the holy month of Ramadan on Wednesday, with hardliners in Indonesia vowing to raid "sinful" bars after police steamrollered a mountain of alcohol and porn.

Tens of millions across the Muslim world fast from dawn to dusk and strive to be more pious and charitable during the month, which ends with the Eid holiday.

But Ramadan began in war-torn Afghanistan with a bomb blast, and there was tight security in parts of the southern Philippines after deadly clashes with Muslim rebels.

In Indonesia, which has the world's biggest Muslim population, hardliners use Ramadan as an excuse to attack nightspots and shops that openly sell alcohol, the consumption of which is against Islamic law.

There were fears the situation could be worse this year after a recent upsurge in attacks on religious minorities and non-mainstream Muslims.

Critics say hardliners such as the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) have been emboldened by the government's failure to crack down on them and to prevent such attacks.

Firm action promised

In the days before Ramadan, there were already reports that the FPI - who led protests that forced pop star Lady Gaga to cancel a concert in Jakarta last year - had started conducting such raids.

"We will take firm action against the circulation of alcohol, naked dancing and prostitution," Habib Idrus Algadri, head of an FPI group in Depok district outside Jakarta, was quoted as saying in a local newspaper.

He was leading a group of FPI members who seized bottles of alcohol from a shop at the weekend.

Habib Salim Alatas, the head of the FPI's Jakarta branch, told AFP that 50 members would be sent out to monitor nightspots in the capital every evening.

"We will send out groups of two to three wearing civilian clothes to spy on sinful activities like the drinking of alcohol taking place around Jakarta during the Ramadan holy month," he said.

Authorities have also been making a show of cracking down on the illegal sale of alcohol.

The challenge of getting a beer

At the weekend police in Jakarta used a steamroller to crush thousands of bottles of homemade alcohol that was being sold in places without licences, as well as destroying pornographic and pirated DVDS.

For non-Muslims and others in Indonesia who drink alcohol, getting a beer during Ramadan can be a challenge as some bars only want to serve customers they know for fear of being targeted by hardline spies.

Some stop serving alcohol, while others try to keep hardliners away by putting blinds on their windows, serving drinks in mugs instead of glasses and asking customers to sneak in through side doors.

The start of Islam's holiest month brought no let-up in Afghanistan's long-running conflict, with three civilians killed and two others wounded in a Taliban roadside bombing in the southern province of Helmand, authorities said.

The interior ministry said that two dozen rebels had been killed in operations across the country over the past 24 hours.

In the Catholic-majority Philippines, there were was tight security at the start of Ramadan in southern Muslim-populated areas after weekend clashes between troops and Islamic rebels left eight dead.

Before Ramadan began, authorities ordered a halt in military operations against a rebel splinter group that is seeking to derail peace negotiations between the country's largest Muslim guerrilla force and Manila.

In Malaysia people were looking forward to breaking their fast at markets in a country whose multiethnic make-up - it is Muslim-majority but has sizeable Chinese and Indian communities - is reflected in a vast and varied selection of food.

Ramadan begins when the first crescent of a new moon is sighted. It has yet to start in some Asian countries with large Muslim populations, including Pakistan and India.

Read more on:    indonesia  |  religion

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.