Jakarta. The Indonesian Ulema Council, or MUI, has issued an edict to legitimize Friday prayers outside mosques, which will facilitate this week's planned protest action against Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama.
The protest will be in the form of a mass prayer at the National Monument (Monas) complex in Central Jakarta on Friday (02/12).
However, the edict contradicts one issued by Indonesia's largest Muslim group, the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), which has discouraged Muslims from participating in the protest.
Thousands of Muslims are expected to gather at Monas for Friday prayers, in a show of protest against Ahok, who is accused of blasphemy.
In the edict issued by the MUI on Tuesday, the country's highest Islamic clerical body says "under certain circumstances, it is legitimate to stage Friday prayers outside a mosque, as long as it is within a residential area."
The council of around 70 Muslim leaders also says in the edict that any Friday prayers held outside the mosque "should not disturb the public order," as it will be then be considered haram, or proscribed by Islamic law.
The edict, which was signed by MUI Fatwa Commission chairman Hasanuddin on Monday, comes after police asked the council last week to "provide explanations about staging Friday prayers on the street."
Muslim protesters have earlier planned to hold Friday prayers on the main streets leading to the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle in Central Jakarta, but the police have strongly warned against this over public order concerns.
Said Aqil Siradj, chairman of the 40-million-strong NU, said last week that his organization recently issued an edict that forbids Friday prayers on the street.