As this episode is published, millions of Christians are celebrating Christmas. Many are yearning to travel home to spend time with their families and attend church services together. This has again brought to attention the issue of restricting believers from performing religious rituals and gatherings to control Covid-19.
The Indonesian government has also struggled with the challenge of restricting believers’ right to practice their faith in the face of Covid-19. In May, it was criticised for failing to prevent millions of Muslims from returning to their hometowns for Eid celebrations. And a few weeks ago, the Jakarta provincial government was lambasted for failing to prevent tens of thousands of supporters of Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab from attending the wedding of his daughter in Jakarta.
To talk about the role of Indonesian religious leaders and institutions in the Covid-19 pandemic, I speak with Dr Syafiq Hasyim. Dr Syafiq Hasyim is Lecturer at State Islamic University Syarif Hidayatullah in Jakarta and visiting fellow at the Indonesia Studies Programme, ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute. Dr Hasyim also heads key offices in Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and the Ulama Council of Indonesia (MUI).
In 2020, the Talking Indonesia podcast is co-hosted by Dr Charlotte Setijadi from Singapore Management University, Dr Dave McRae from the University of Melbourne’s Asia Institute, Dr Jemma Purdey from Monash University and the Australia-Indonesia Centre, and Dr Dirk Tomsa from La Trobe University.
Photo by Antara.