Indonesia’s new rules governing the use of loudspeakers for more than 600,000 registered mosques issued on February 18 appear to have sparked controversy in the country with the world’s largest Muslim population.
The Ministry of Religious Affairs, through a circular letter, has introduced several new guidelines on loudspeakers in response to complaints from many people over the years about the level and quality of loudspeakers that are commonly used in mosques to announce Adhan and other things. The circular regulates time and power from loudspeakers in mosques and prayer rooms.
In the circular, Minister of Religion Yaqut Cholil Qoumas said that the use of loudspeakers in mosques and prayer rooms is necessary for Muslims as one of the media to spread Islam in the community. On the other hand, Indonesian society is also diverse in religion, belief, background. So on, it is necessary to maintain fraternity and social harmony.
The circular, an update of the original 1978 guidelines, introduced a volume limit for loudspeakers, with a maximum limit of 100 decibels, and required sound quality to be “good or not discordant. It also shortened the time for Quranic recitals before the dawn call to prayer, which was previously 15 minutes to 10 minutes.
The new guidelines also stated that sermons and other announcements might only use the interior speaker and not the external speaker.
The Indonesian internet community appears to be divided on the new guidelines, with some supporting the new policies and others regretting the Ministry of Religion’s move.
A Twitter user said that the new rules for using external speakers for the call to prayer were correct. He admits that he is often disturbed by it as his house is next to a traditional mosque.
Another Twitter user, however, said that Islam appeared to be the only religion being targeted, and it was getting close to feeling like living in France”, which has controversially banned the wearing of Islamic veils in public spaces.