Many have been shocked to learn that 1,700 Muslim clerics of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) — the largest Muslim organization in Indonesia — have issued an edict banning communication between sexes using mobile phones, and online social networks such as Facebook.
For Jani Sularto, her BlackBerry is an essential part of keeping connected with business partners and friends.
"The nature of my work requires that I continually check for incoming emails because many of our business partners are overseas," she said Friday.
"It all depends on individuals. I stay online 24 hours, but only log in to Facebook for two hours a day to get in touch with old friends," said Jani, who found her elementary school friends using Facebook.
"For me, this gadget has more advantages than disadvantages."
Jani is among the many mobile phone and Facebook users who may be affronted by the new edict.
NU spokesman Abdul Muid Shohib said communication using mobile phones was prone to adultery, especially between the sexes.
"Communicating through mobile phones could lead to extramarital affairs," Abdul told The Jakarta Post through his mobile.
The only communication allowed between different sexes is that which spreads Islamic teachings, he said.
"We have banned social networking such as Facebook, Friendster and others because they are not used to spread Islamic teachings, but for gossiping," he said.
"The edict is to warn Indonesian Muslims, because many of them including our santri [students] are using Facebook and Friendster. We are very concerned that cyber pornography is infiltrating these networks."
Ulemas requested social networking operators block online pornography, Abdul said.
"If nothing changes in a month, we'll demand the government block access to Facebook, Friendster and other networks."
Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) East Java chapter head Abdussomad Buchori acknowledged he had no idea about online social networking, but would support the edict if it prevented adultery.
"The MUI would never ban Internet use provided it is for learning or information seeking purposes."
Re-edited from thejakartapost
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