Indonesian Mayor Tells Employees to Pray Each Morning

Ahmad Syamsudin
180921-ID-prayer-620.jpg Muslims attend a morning prayer marking Eid al-Adha in Kokokputek, Lombok island, Indonesia, Aug. 22, 2018.

In what could be seen as a sign of the growing inclusion of religion in government affairs, the mayor of an Indonesian city told senior civil servants to pray at their neighborhood mosque every morning or face dismissal, an official at the mayor’s office said Friday.

Harnojoyo, who recently was re-elected as mayor of Palembang on Sumatra island, launched an initiative called “Dawn prayer assembly movement,” as part of his pledge to make the city more religious.

The mayor, who like many Indonesians uses one name, issued a directive on Wednesday requiring senior staffers to perform dawn Islamic prayers, known as subuh, in their local mosques, said spokesman Abu Bilal.

“The mayor hopes that by praying together with neighbors, officials will be able to listen to people’s aspirations better,” Bilal told BenarNews. “This is part of efforts to make Palembang a Darussalam.”

Darussalam is an Islamic term which literally means abode of peace, but also refers to a place where Muslims have a privileged status to practice their religion.

The order affects all 16,000 of the city’s civil servants. Sanctions, which could be in the form of a reprimand, demotion or dismissal, apply only to about 1,600 officials, Bilal said.

A mobile phone app is being developed so morning activities can be monitored with the help of Google Maps, Bilal said.

While announcing the directive on Wednesday, Harnojoyo pledged to visit 107 villages in the city and pray at local mosques.

“All officials in the village must come. If not, heavy sanctions will be meted out. There are many who want their jobs,” Harnojoyo told local media.

Bilal said the mayor starts his day at 3.30 a.m. by visiting a village, praying with locals and having breakfast with them.

Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Saifuddin declined to comment on the mayor’s move, saying he was studying the directive.

Local leaders in other parts of the country, including in Aceh and Depok, near Jakarta, have launched similar initiatives.

Islamic teachings call for praying together as a congregation being preferable to praying alone.

Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, about 85 percent of its population of 260 million.

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, who is seeking a second five-year term in next year’s election, has picked a senior Muslim cleric known for anti-gay and anti-pluralistic views as his running mate. His choice of Ma’ruf Amin has been seen as an attempt to fend off accusations from conservative Muslims that he is not Islamic enough.


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