Mon, 15 Aug 1994

Ulemas asked to preach about family planning

JAKARTA (JP): State Minister of Population Haryono Suyono is encouraging religious leaders to help the government promote its "prosperous family movement" campaign.

Haryono invited nearly 100 ulemas and chairmen of the 27 provincial offices of the Indonesian Ulemas Council (MUI) here Saturday to help fight poverty and build prosperous communities through their Friday sermons.

"The first phase of the family planning movement was completed at the conclusion of Indonesia's first 25-years development plan early this year," he said. "Now, we are embarking on another movement, which is the development of prosperous families."

He lectured the ulemas about various issues, including the government's population control efforts, the family planning methods, the campaign for women's reproductive rights and the fight against the Acquired Immune-deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

He also suggested that the ulemas concentrate their efforts on rural areas and try to control the increasing rate of urbanization by encouraging growth in villages.

"For instance, you could establish special pesantren (Islamic boarding schools) in the villages, and make them attractive enough to attract urban dwellers."

He also said that modern people, wary of the fast pace of urban life, might find peace and opportunity to reassess their life and family life in the villages.

This "reversed urbanization" would also help change the villages into centers of growth, and prevent people from leaving to find lives in the cities, he said.

Haryono was accompanied yesterday by Minister of Religious Affairs Tarmizi Taher in his capacity as the chairman of MUI advisory board.

Tarmizi applauded the ulemas' contribution toward many government programs, including their initiative to establish the "Clean Friday" movement with the support of the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF).

He also said that it would be impossible for any nation to contain the growing threats of AIDS by relying on scientific advancement alone. "Without the help of religions and ulemas, no country would be able to tackle the problem of AIDS," Tarmizi said. (swe)