While the vast majority of Muslims in Indonesia fast during the holy month of Ramadan, it is obviously not legally required for them to do so but a personal choice based upon their faith. However, in some particularly conservative parts of the country, restaurants are ordered by their local governments to shut down during daylight hours out of “respect” for those who are fasting.
Such an order was issued once again by the mayor of Padang, the capital city of West Sumatra, for Ramadan this year. Yesterday, the city’s Civil Service Police (Satpol PP) performed raids on some warung makan (small, informal restaurants) that they suspected of being open during the day and documented their efforts as a warning to others.
As noted in the top of the press release about the raids posted alongside a video on the Satpol PP Padang’s official Facebook page, the raids targeted “Warung Kelambu” — literally meaning curtained warungs but used to describe those that secretly remain open during Ramadan — for disobeying the mayor’s Ramadan regulations circular.
“According to points five and six (of the mayor’s circular) it is clearly written that all restaurant and restaurant business owners, as well as warungs, cafes and similar businesses, must honor the holy month of Ramadan by not opening their business during the daytime. To all religious people that want to maintain harmony and tolerance between religious people, you are asked to respect and appreciate (the regulations),” Satpol PP Padang chief Yadrison said according to the statement.
Yadrison said that the day before the raids, his officers had already issued warnings and tried to persuade the owners of those warungs found to be open during the day to close down.
He said that the owner of one restaurant on Jalan Nipah that had been previously warned was found to be open when raided yesterday. Because of that, he said that officers confiscated a number of items from the warung including rice, stoves and gas cylinders.
Yadrison said the owner could get the items back if they signed a form and promised not to open up again during the day.
Apparently Padang has been dealing with the “negative tradition” of Warung Kelambu for some time. Here’s a new report about Satpol PP in Padang performing raids on warungs last Ramadan.
Similar raids by Satpol PP in Bukittinggi, West Sumatra, were also carried out this week, with three warungs and one home seller found to be selling food and drinks during the day having their goods and cooking equipment confiscated. Police there said the owners would need to pay a IDR500,000 (US$35) fine to have their goods released.
These raids often do not go over well. Last year one hot-headed warung owner in Riau threw sambal at a Satpol PP officer conducting a raid on his stall.
In 2016, Satpol PP officers raided a warung in the city of Serang, Banten. The raid was filmed by the media, and images of the warung owner, an old lady, crying while the officers confiscated her food became the talk of the nation .
The public donated a large amount of money for the lady, and even President Joko Widodo personally donated IDR10 million (US$708) to her.
Despite that outcry, regulations against Ramadan restaurant openings remain in effect in many parts of the country, and every year warung owners choose not to follow them because that’s how great their economic need is. Plus, there are still plenty of people in those cities who might want to eat during the day, including non-Muslims and the many Muslims who have totally valid reasons for not fasting. Why can’t their rights be respected?