Banda Aceh bans ‘Christian’ New Year celebrations, threatens recalcitrant hotels with closure

Viva – December 15, 2018
Banda Aceh Mayor Aminullah Usman (Viva)
Banda Aceh Mayor Aminullah Usman (Viva)

Banda Aceh Mayor Aminullah Usman says he will revoke the business licenses of hotels in Banda Aceh that provide facilities for people to celebrate New Year.

The municipal government will also issue an appeal to city residents asking them not to celebrate the changing of the year. The appeal has already been agreed to by the local Regional Leadership Communication Forum (FKPD).

“We don’t want there to be any exceptions. We will revoke their licenses if they are found facilitating New Year celebrations”, said Usman following the opening of a coffee festival at the Sari Park in the Acehnese provincial capital of Banda Aceh on December 15.

The appeal also bans parties, firecrackers and fireworks, things which are deemed not to be accordance with syariah Islam (Islamic law) which is in force in Aceh.

The government said it wants to realise zero New Year celebrations. “A New Year’s Eve without fireworks, firecrackers, trumpets, parties or riots. There must be no parties and it must be orderly on New Year’s Eve”, he said.

According to Usman, the Christian celebration of New Year conflicts with Islamic Law and only the Islamic New Year (1 Muharam) will be celebrated in Aceh. Marking New Year is not in accordance with the culture of the Islamic community.

“We have our own new year namely 1 Muharam which must be revered. The Christian New Year is not part of our culture as Muslims and is not part of Islamic teachings”, he said.

The Banda Aceh government and related parties have already begun to publicise the appeal. This will not just be done through leaflets but it will also be socialised through sermons at Friday prayers in all mosques.

The government will organise joint raids in anticipation of the sale of firecrackers, fireworks, squibs and other materials related to celebrations in the lead up to the New Year.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Tolak Tahun Baru Masehi, Aceh Larang Ada Perayaan Sama Sekali”.]