An Indonesian Muslim woman with hijab holds a candle as part of a rally for peace in Jakarta. (AFP Photo/Bay Ismoyo)

Commentary: Losing My Religion — Double Standard of Nightclubs


JANUARY 29, 2015

For a city known for its bustling nightlife, Jakarta is no longer looking so tourist-friendly with their discriminatory policies at clubbing premises.

Even with strict social standards already in place, clubs are also refusing entry to Muslim women in head coverings typically known as hijab.

However, no restrictions apply to Muslim men or Muslim women without the hijab, which makes one wonder how prevalent Indonesia is trying to make discrimination look like.

So when Immigrant club in Central Jakarta demanded I take off the hijab before I could enter, I stood shocked at the audacity of the words that came from management. And if the irony of the club’s name isn’t enough for you, they were happy to take every other “Immigrant” except myself.

The double standard culture present in Indonesia questions the values and integrity of the policies and people — especially if they hold the capacity to become racially or religiously discriminatory. Although no country’s regulations and policies may be anywhere near perfect let alone just, the public image of that country formulates the strongest policy.

And so what has the public opinion of Indonesia become? Obviously, one must conclude on Indonesia’s predominantly Muslim demographics where existence of Islamic values and norms are in place. This includes the policies respected by Indonesia’s top Muslim clerical body, Majelis Ulama Indonesia. However, why do the double standards exist here?

When I asked why one couldn’t take the hijab in Domain Boutique Club, management told me that alcohol would be sold in the premises and could not be sold to women clothed in a hijab. Yet they assured me how countless Muslim men and women without the Islamic apparel were allowed entry and served alcohol, too. This is the exact hypocrisy the society seems to be propelling, for not only its people but to foreigners as well.

A woman in hijab is demanded to have it taken off before entering clubs, yet a Muslim man is not asked to leave his religion? Nor is a woman with a cross or a man with a Buddhist bracelet asked to have it removed before entry?

So why should only a Muslim woman in a scarf be targeted?

Drinking is forbidden for all Muslims according to the holy book, Quran and hadiths. Although no intentions for drinking were made, clubs in Indonesia refused entry due to my physical appearance.

“Women in hijab are not allowed in our clubs. That’s our policy. It’s the same if a pregnant women wanted to enter a club — we wouldn’t let her in,” proclaimed management of Domain club in the Senayan City shopping mall in South Jakarta.

Pregnancy would be an issue regarding health and safety. However, the hijab is one’s identity.

I’m not arguing to get entrance into a club; my point is to let Indonesia grow concerned over why discriminatory policies are only made against covered women but not Muslim men or even women without the hijab.

If you’re alarmed why a hijab-wearing woman should even attempt entry into a club, then the question itself raises an issue. Are we really living in a “Muslim country” with policies targeted against certain Muslims? Should we even title ourselves as “bad” or “good” Muslims if a country doesn’t follow one straight standard?

Rabab Hannan is an intern at the Jakarta Globe. The views expressed are her own.