Library of Congress

Law Library of Congress

The Library of Congress > Law Library > News & Events > Global Legal Monitor

Indonesia: Cities Require Wearing of Muslim Attire on Fridays

(May 1, 2013) Two Javanese cities, located near Jakarta, have established apparel rules for municipal staff members. In South Tangerang city, Mayor Airin Rachni Diany declared on Apr. 24, 2013, that all Muslim staff members should wear Muslim attire on Fridays. Non-Muslim staff members are to wear their civil servant uniforms on that day, as all employees do on the other work days. In the nearby city of Tangerang, Mayor Wahidin Halim had already announced that staff members must wear Muslim clothes, as part of an effort to increase the religious atmosphere within the administration. (Multa Fidrus & Dicky Christanto, S Tangerang Staff to Wear Muslim Attire Once a Week, THE JAKARTA POST (Apr. 24, 2013).) Over 88% of the Indonesian population is Muslim. (Richard Allen Greene, Nearly 1 in 4 People Worldwide Is Muslim, Report Says, CNN.COM/ASIA (Oct. 12, 2009).)

Muslim attire was defined by South Tangerang’s mayor for male workers as long-sleeve collarless shirts, worn with black cone-shaped hats. Women’s attire is to include a hijab (head scarf), with a loose-dress over a long white shirt or loose pants. The mayor noted that she thought this policy would have a good effect on work performance. (Fidrus & Christanto, supra.)

The Human Rights Working Group (HRWG), an Indonesian umbrella organization for human rights groups (Profile HRWG, HRWG website (Aug. 28, 2009)), has objected to the dress code, calling it a violation of Indonesia’s constitution and asking the country’s Home Affairs Ministry to investigate. The Deputy Director of the group, Choirul Anam, stated that rules on attire for government workers were a misunderstanding of Islam and would not help the country. Anam advocated instead that local governments, “[a]ccelerate physical development by building public facilities, providing better health access and education — especially for the poor — and implement monitoring to avoid corruption. These are more Islamic than requiring people to wear Muslim attire.” (Id.)