Indonesia: bars cause scandal by offering free alcohol to customers named Muhammad

A popular bar chain in Indonesia is under investigation after posting a promotion online offering free alcohol to customers with the first name Muhammad, a move that has sparked outrage from Muslim organizations, some of which have filed a complaint for blasphemy, the police said on Friday, June 24.

In a post that has since been deleted, Holywings bars offered free gin every Thursday to customers with the first name Muhammad and customers with the first name Maria, upon presentation of their identity card. At least two youth organizations have reported the incident, accusing the channel of blasphemy against religion, an offense punishable by up to five years in prison under Indonesian law, Jakarta police said.

Authorities have opened an investigation into the promotional campaign and issued a warning against any attempt to attack the chain’s premises, police spokesman Endra Zulpan told a press conference. The company had to apologize and claim that management was unaware of this promotion. “We do not intend to associate religion with our promotion and therefore sincerely apologize to the public.“, assured the offending bars in a message posted Thursday on social networks.

The promotion sparked an outcry on social media and among conservative Muslim organizations, which accused the channel of disrespecting the Prophet Muhammad. Dadang Kahmad, head of the Muslim organization Muhammadiyah, denounced an absence “of ethics“, judging “regrettable that we play with religious symbols, not only Muslim religious symbols, but those of other religions as well“. “Why choose Muhammad? Why not choose other first names that have no religious connotation?“, he added.

Apologies alone are not enough… They must be investigated and severely punished“Commented Conservative MP Fahira Idris on her Twitter account followed by 650,000 subscribers. Alcohol consumption is not prohibited for patrons of any religion in secular establishments in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country by population, but it is considered illicit by observant Muslims.

SEE ALSO – Pakistan: a Sri Lankan accused of blasphemy beaten to death and set on fire by a mob

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