In­done­sia clamps down on ... love


The Citizen (KZN) - - World - Makassar

In­done­sia wasn’t feel­ing the love for Valen­tine’s Day yes­ter­day as au­thor­i­ties ar­rested cou­ples in one city, scolded stores over con­dom dis­plays and warned stu­dents they would be rep­ri­manded for amorous ac­tiv­i­ties.

Makassar on Su­lawesi is­land doled out some tough love with raids at ho­tels and guest houses Thurs­day evening which net­ted about two dozen un­mar­ried of­fend­ers, in­clud­ing a Ger­man na­tional.

“We caught the Ger­man with his In­done­sian part­ner in a mo­tel and they weren’t hus­band and wife so that’s why we ar­rested them,” Iman Hud, head of the lo­cal pub­lic or­der of­fice, said.

The un­lucky lovers were quickly re­leased af­ter a lec­ture about the evils of pre-mar­i­tal sex, but five sex work­ers caught in the drag­net would be sent to a re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­tre, he added.

“These so­cial ill­nesses must be pre­vented. We need to re­mind the pub­lic to up­hold our cul­ture and ethics,” Hud said.

Valen­tine’s Day is con­tro­ver­sial in parts of the ma­jor­ity Mus­lim na­tion, with many Is­lamic cler­ics and con­ser­va­tive In­done­sians crit­i­cis­ing its Western roots and what they say is its pro­mo­tion of pre-mar­i­tal sex.

Still, many oth­ers prac­tise a mod­er­ate form of Is­lam and cel­e­brate the day with choco­lates and flow­ers for their loved ones, and dis­plays were set up at malls and cafés in the cap­i­tal Jakarta.

Back in Makassar, how­ever, au­thor­i­ties were check­ing to see if shops had com­plied with an ear­lier warn­ing not to sell con­doms openly and check iden­ti­fi­ca­tion cards to make sure buy­ers weren’t un­der­aged.

“Con­doms are for mar­ried adults,” Hud said.

“They’re not sup­posed to be dis­played and sold openly, par­tic­u­larly near snacks for kids like choco­late.”

Makassar’s act­ing mayor, Muham­mad Iqbal Samad Suhae, in­sisted the mea­sures were nec­es­sary to pre­vent his city from be­ing paral­ysed by ram­pant sex and drug use.

“Fes­tiv­i­ties like Valen­tine’s Day usu­ally at­tract youth. That’s when they are out of con­trol and do­ing things which vi­o­late our norms and tra­di­tions, like con­sum­ing drugs and en­gag­ing in free sex. “We want to pre­vent that here.” In De­pok city, near Jakarta, ad­min­is­tra­tors warned stu­dents against any Valen­tine’s ro­mance un­der threat of un­spec­i­fied sanc­tions for vi­o­la­tors.

Across the ar­chi­pel­ago in con­ser­va­tive Aceh, the only re­gion in In­done­sia that im­poses Is­lamic law, a gov­ern­ment cir­cu­lar called for res­i­dents not to cel­e­brate the ro­man­tic day and to re­port any vi­o­la­tions.

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