Indonesia’s halal tourism bid faces pig pushback
Fri 01 November 2019:
Indonesia’s bidding for more visitors by spreading halal tourism across the archipelago is facing a backlash, with a Christian celebration of pigs – forbidden for Muslims – the latest act of dissent.
The weekend festival-cum-protest in Sumatra, featuring pig racing, chubbiest hog contests and a porcine fashion show, comes as holiday hotspot Bali pushes back against rolling out more Muslim-friendly services on the Hindu island.
Pushing halal tourism in areas with religious minorities – including Christians, Buddhists and Hindus – may do more harm than good, warned Ali Munhanif, an expert on political Islam at Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University Jakarta.
“The phenomenon signals an effort to institutionalise conservatism,” he said.
“Bali successfully manages its tourism sector without using a ‘Hindu’ label.
But those who support halal tourism say is misunderstood.
“There is a public misperception that halal tourism is Islamisation. That is wrong and it’s why some people overreact to the concept,” said Zainut Tauhid, Indonesia’s deputy minister of religious affairs.
“It is about providing necessary facilities for Muslim visitors such as prayer rooms. So it is facilitation rather than Islamisation.”
Last month, provincial governor Edy Rahmayadi said he wanted to boost tourism with Islam-friendly facilities and services.
That included opening more halal restaurants and mosques, as well as banning the public slaughter of hogs, with the governor saying the practice could turn off Muslim visitors.
This month, Indonesia ushered in new halal labelling rules for consumer products and services, as the government eyes travellers from other Islamic nations to rev up its much-touted “10 New Balis” tourism push, which includes Lake Toba.
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