The Home Affairs Ministry said it disagrees with a ruling issued by the head of the Rokan Hulu district in Riau that requires all male Muslim public servants there to perform two daily prayers, according to a report issued Monday.
“This is clearly a strange ruling, because a matter for God has become a matter for the district head,” Djohermanyah Djohan, the Home Affairs Ministry’s director general for regional autonomy, said according to the Republika news website.
Ahmad, the head of the Rokan Hulu district, in a 2011 ruling required all male civil servants who are Muslim to take part in mass prayers at the main mosque at the Islamic Center at Pasir Pengaraian, the capital of the district, for Zuhur and Ashar, two of the five daily prayers for Muslims.
“If that was a mere call, it would not be a problem,” Home Affairs Minister Gamawan Fauzi was separately quoted by Republika as saying. “But if there are sanctions, then the rule needs to be reviewed.”
Reports have said that 19 civil servants have been discharged since the ruling took effect for failure to abide by it.
Gamawan said that none of the powers given to regional heads under Law No 23/2004 on decentralization allows them to interfere with religious practices.
Indonesia is a predominantly Muslim nation, with close to 90 percent of its roughly 240 million people following Islam.
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