A new edict seeks to ban people from wearing the Santa Claus hat in Indonesia, and it has sparked conflict within the country.
What did the fatwa ask, specifically?
The Indonesian Ulema Council published the edict, which is also known as a fatwa, on December 14. The edict particularly highlighted businesses that ask their workers to don Santa Claus costumes during the #Christmas season, which the edict said could range from hotels to supermarkets. The edict particularly quoted the Quran, highlighting quotes that condemned the concept of combining “truth with…falsehood.”
Although the Christmas holiday was mentioned in the edict, Santa Claus hats and costumes were not directly mentioned, having been downplayed as “non-Muslim attributes.” The edict also advocated for the government to protect Muslim workers who are obliged to involve themselves in Christmas celebrations. The ban is not in any way legally binding, but it is believed to reflect political unrest.
Conflicts instigated by the ban
Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim country, but it has a secular government. Added to that, Christian, Hindu, and Buddhist minorities within the country are said to be quite influential.
The members of the Islam Defenders Front were inspired by the ban to fight the Santa Claus hats directly. Reportedly, raids were enacted at shopping malls that sell Santa Claus hats within Indonesia. Indonesian police escorted the protestors, leading to accusations of them enforcing the ban, although a released statement from the chief of police, Colonel Muhammad Iqbal, claimed their involvement was strictly intended to prevent the protests from becoming violent. Police also later denied that they would enforce the ban in another released statement.
Recent terrorist attacks in Indonesia have also been blamed for the ban, as police have reportedly killed three people, and arrested three others, who were involved in what was believed to be a planned suicide bombing on Christmas, that would have reportedly targeted Christian targets, on the outskirts of Jakarta.
Indonesia Ulema Council chairman Ma'ruf Amin later defended the edict in a released statement, highlighting that Muslim workers had been obliged to embrace Christmas traditions by employers, and enforcement of the ban was meant to protect their religious freedoms, rather than pure censorship of the Christmas holiday.