Saeni was just one of many people in Indonesia – a country that includes interreligious tolerance as one of its founding principles – who chose to keep her warung open during the day in Ramadan to serve those who aren’t fasting. Sadly, the local government of her hometown of Serang in Banten province forbade warungs from selling food while the majority of citizens are fasting.
As such, Saeni’s warung was raided by Serang’s Civil Service Police Unit (Satpol PP) on Friday, who also confiscated all of the food being sold in her warung while she watched on helplessly with tears in her eyes. Luckily, the media was present during the raid and Kompas TV reported on the incident.
Coverage of Saeni’s warung being raided drove thousands of sympathetic netizens to come to her aid. As part of an online fundraiser started by stand-up comedian Dwika Putra (@dwikaputra), people from all over Indonesia donated around Rp 265 million over the weekend for Ibu Saeni to make up for the raid on her warung and more.
While it’s great that so many showed solidarity for Ibu Saeni like this, the fact of the matter is that there are many more like her whose livelihoods are threatened by intolerant regional authorities (such as those in Bogor, who also passed regulations forcing warungs to shut down during the day and punished people who ate lunch with push-ups) as well as hardline mass organizations, whose raids are very much against Islam’s idea of respecting those who aren’t fasting during Ramadan.
Unless the government actively tries to stop these officials and groups from imposing their own ill-founded beliefs on others, there will be many more Saenis during this and every subsequent Ramadan who may not be as lucky to get donations from the public.
On a positive note, several officials from the national government have condemned the raid on Saeni’s warung, with Vice President Jusuf Kalla and Home Affairs Minister Tjahjo Kumolo both calling for authorities not to overreact and to show tolerance during Ramadan. President Joko Widodo has also reportedly made a personal donation of Rp 10 million to Saeni.
A version of this article is available in Bahasa Indonesia at our sister site Coconuts Indonesia.