Indonesian clerics mull motorcycle helmet fatwa

February 21, 2010 14:19

Indonesia's leading clerics are considering a religious edict against riding a motorbike without a crash helmet to promote safety on the chaotic and deadly roads of the world's most populous Muslim country.

Such a fatwa would not carry a penalty for those who ignore it, but advocates said Sunday making road safety a moral issue could be more effective than the law.

Helmets have been compulsory in Indonesia since 1988, but a 2005 government study found that up to 30 percent of riders in cities still did not wear one. Even fewer riders wear them in rural areas.

The Ulema Council, an influential board of Islamic clerics, will consider issuing the edict after consulting the Road Safety Association, motorbike riders, government regulators and medical professionals, council general secretary Ichwan Sam said.

"As Islamic people, we have to protect our religion, our body and soul, our mind, our ancestry and our wealth," Sam said. "Wearing a helmet when riding a motorbike is included in the protection of our body and soul."

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