Balikpapan Adds to Schoolchildren’s Koran Study Curfew

Balikpapan, East Kalimantan. The Balikpapan city administration has passed a decree establishing a three-hour curfew for schoolchildren between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. effective immediately on school nights.

“The heads of urban wards and neighborhoods will have to inform the public about this,” Balikpapan Mayor Rizal Effendy said on Tuesday. “We will then form supervisory organizations at the urban ward levels as both implementer and supervisor. They will involve local public leaders, educational institutions and other figures…”

The curfew came after the city’s religious affairs office passed a similar ruling in November, which required all Muslim children to spend time reciting the Koran after dusk prayers.

“We will combine the two programs,” Rizal said. “After Maghrib, [dusk prayer] children at home will use their time after the prayers to read the Koran. Muslim families are expected to play a role in supervising and implementing this policy.”

He said that the city would not enforce any sanction for now.

“We will decide on the sanction gradually,” he said. “For the time being the sanctions are moral and social in nature.”

The mayor also called on internet cafes in the city to close during the curfew. Internet cafes are usually packed after school hours.

“This is all for the good of our students. If there are still internet cafes that persist [to remain open], we will revoke their operational permits” he said.

Erwin, 40, who has a child in school and lives in the Gunung Malang area of Central Balikpapan, said he was happy with the new mayoral ruling, but demanded that the city authorities be consistent in its implementation.

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