Islamic Defenders Front protest newborn camel at Surabaya Zoo they thought was named after Prophet’s mother

Single-humped camels at the Surabaya Zoo. Photo: Instagram/@kebunbinatangsurabaya
Single-humped camels at the Surabaya Zoo. Photo: Instagram/@kebunbinatangsurabaya

Indonesia’s most infamous religious hardliners, the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), are primarily known for their protests of everything from politicians and pluralism to porn stars and Lady Gaga. But this is the first time we’ve heard of them protesting at a zoo, and it’s all because of a newborn camel calf.

On May 15, a single-humped camel was born at the Surabaya Zoo, which by some reports had been named Aminah. She is the sixth calf born from the zoo’s camel couple, Okky and Milo.

On July 1, the FPI reportedly raided the zoo to protest the calf’s name, which they said is an insult to the Prophet Muhammad because it contains half of his mother’s name, Siti Aminah.

The matter was soon resolved after the zoo clarified that there was a misunderstanding when the calf’s name was announced to the media some time ago.

“Yes, the FPI came here. This is a case of misspeaking [during the announcement], the camel’s name is Sarinah. Or maybe during the conference the media misheard,” said Surabaya Zoo Head of Public Relations Winy, as quoted by Jawapos on Monday.

We’ll probably never know if there was indeed miscommunication when the calf’s name was announced or if the zoo changed the name amid pressure from the FPI and then blamed it on miscommunication.

Regardless, it seems the zoo and FPI are over the hump regarding the camel problem as both parties have apologized to each other.

“We apologized and FPI accepted. At the end the FPI also apologized if their presence bothered us,” Winy said.

Surabaya FPI Army Guardian Agus Fachruddin said the zoo signed a written statement containing their clarification of the camel’s name.

“At first we were offended and we protested. But now it’s over, the Surabaya Zoo has signed a written statement,” he said.

Hopefully no one else will bother Aminah/Sarinah’s life in captivity from now on.

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