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Top Indonesian Islamic Clerics Call for Israel Boycott

FILE - Muslim women wave Palestinian and Indonesian flags during a rally supporting the Palestinians in Jakarta, Indonesia, Oct. 15, 2023.
FILE - Muslim women wave Palestinian and Indonesian flags during a rally supporting the Palestinians in Jakarta, Indonesia, Oct. 15, 2023.

The top organization of Islamic scholars in Indonesia has issued a religious ruling mandating that Muslims in Indonesia must support the Palestinian people's fight for independence, and that supporting Israeli "aggression" is haram, or forbidden.

Asrorun Niam Sholeh, the chairman of Fatwa Division of the Indonesian Ulema Council, abbreviated as MUI, issued guidance on Friday that said supporting Israel or assisting those "who support Israeli aggression" against Palestinians is forbidden.

"MUI recommends to the Muslim community to avoid, as much as possible, transactions such as buying and selling with businesses that openly support aggression and the Zionist activities of Israel," said Niam.

MUI recommends Muslims in Indonesia avoid buying Israeli products or any products affiliated with Israel. However, the organization does not list any products or companies.

The group has also recommended that the government take decisive steps to assist the people in Gaza by engaging in diplomacy at the United Nations and among member countries of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation by urging them to collectively pressure Israel to stop the war.

Not everyone on board

Fadillah, a mother of two in the Bekasi area of West Java, was shopping at a supermarket in the area. The 50-year-old woman was checking the products on her list against a list of boycotted products, which she obtained from social media.

She says that she is determined not to buy Israeli products or products that support Israel.

"I don't want to contribute money that will be used to fight the people of Gaza," she said.

Indri Wulandari, a 35-year-old who lives in East Jakarta, feels the same way.

But, another resident, Vickry Hakim, who also resides in Bekasi, believes that boycotting Israeli products is not a solution to stop the violence in Gaza.

"Most products in Indonesia are from abroad," he said. "Especially if we boycott American products, I don't think it's possible because we use a lot of products from their country."

Effectiveness questioned

Mohammad Faisal, an economist with the Center of Reform on Economics, noted that an average citizen's knowledge of products affiliated with Israel is limited.

"In reality, there are many products, and many people do not know and consider them everyday products," said Faisal, who thinks it's still too early to measure the impact of the MUI fatwa, or edict.

Although the fatwa has yet to spread quickly on local social media networks, the intensity of the conflict means it could take hold.

Faisal also cautioned that if Israeli companies or those associated with Israeli interests employ Indonesian citizens, a decline in sales could lead to job cuts and layoffs.

The list circulating on social media among Indonesians includes international corporations including McDonald's, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Nestle, Starbucks, Puma, Hewlett-Packard, Unilever, AXA, Siemens, and others.

So far, only Turkey has openly removed Coca-Cola and Nestle products from restaurant menus.