President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and first lady Iriana Widodo wish all Muslims a happy Idul Fitri from Bogor Palace on Saturday. (Picture Courtesy of Press, Media, and Information Bureau of the Presidential Secretariat).

Indonesian President Urges Restrained Celebration of Idul Fitri 


MAY 23, 2020

Bogor. President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo on Saturday called on Indonesian Muslims to embrace a “different and difficult” Idul Fitri as the country is intensifying measures to curb the spread of the Covid-19 outbreak, saying people’s safety must take precedence.

Idul Fitri, the most important holiday for Indonesian Muslims, falls on Sunday after the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

“We will be celebrating Idul Fitri differently this time, because we have to sacrifice a lot by giving up travelling to our hometowns and the usual gatherings,” the president said in a video message from his official residence in Bogor, West Java, on Idul Fitri eve.

Jokowi has earlier announced he would not accept guests at his residence during Idul Fitri and asked Vice President Ma'ruf Amin, all ministers and other state officials to follow suit.

“I feel it very difficult myself but the safety of our loved ones is certainly much more important and a priority to all of us. I’m certain that if we stick together, the Indonesian people will get through this ordeal,” the president, accompanied by First Lady Iriana, said.

His remarks came when the country is entering its most difficult phase since the outbreak began in early March. Confirmed cases of coronavirus have been growing by at least 482 every day since May 12. 

In the course of the last 12 days, there have been 7,477 more cases, or 34 percent of the overall tally of 21,745. The latest development indicates that the epicenter is shifting from Jakarta to East Java.

National Covid-19 Task Force head Doni Monardo said on Friday the week before and after Idul Fitri will come as a real test for the physical distancing policy and other social restrictions.

He expressed worry that post-Idul Fitri urbanization would trigger a second wave of transmissions of the virus in Jakarta and its satellite cities.

The government has banned the Ramadan exodus to prevent the spread of coronavirus from most-affected cities to other regions. Last year, at least 19 million people left Greater Jakarta to celebrate Idul Fitri in their hometowns. 

The Religious Affairs Ministry and the Indonesian Ulema Council have issued directives calling on Muslims to perform their congregational Idul Fitri prayer at home and to refrain from gathering with relatives and friends during the festival. The Idul Fitri prayer is normally held in public squares or even roads to accommodate a big crowd.