THE Indonesian city of Palembang has issued an edict which forces top civil servants to perform dawn prayers at their local mosques or risk being sacked, in a move that underscores the growing Islamisation of the largely secular republic.
When a smartphone app under development is ready to be utilised, the city council will know whether or not senior bureaucrats have visited their local mosques at the crack of dawn.
City spokesman Amirrudin Sandy told the AFP the order is aimed at helping bureaucrats better relate to residents’ concerns while the early wake-up call could also boost productivity.
“By praying together at dawn with regular people, we get a chance to hear from them directly,” he said.
He added that common complaints ranged from water not running to broken street lights.
Palembang’s new rule, which started Wednesday, applies to Muslim members of its 16,000-strong civil service although only 1,100 senior staff will risk a sacking if they skip dawn prayers.
The city’s mayor plans to do some spot checking to make sure officials were complying until the local government launches a smartphone app to keep track of attendance, Sandy said.
“If we find an official disobeying the regulation we won’t immediately sack him. We will summon him first and ask why he didn’t go to the mosque,” he said.
“If you’re doing your prayers well then, God willing, everything else will be good.”
Starting from daybreak, Muslims are required to pray five times a day, but going to the mosque for each session is not compulsory.
About 90 percent of Indonesia’s 260 million people are adherents of Islam and the country’s long-held reputation having a tolerant brand of Islam is gradually lurching towards conservatism.
The rise of religious conservatism has led to complaints of persecution by religious and sexual minorities, especially in the semi-autonomous province of Aceh, which imposes Shariah law.