‘I never said that’: Indonesia’s new tourism minister denies suggesting to make Bali more Muslim-friendly, highlights misreporting

Coconuts Dipublikasikan 04.50, 14/11/2019 • Coconuts Hong Kong
‘I never said that’: Indonesia’s new tourism minister denies suggesting to make Bali more Muslim-friendly, highlights misreporting

Many people love Bali the way it is, and so it was no surprise that a lot of people were riled up when news broke that Indonesia’s new Tourism and Creative Economy Minister, Wishnutama Kusubandio, was planning on making changes to the country’s top destinations to accommodate more Muslim tourists. 

Last week, Sindo News published a report quoting Wishnutama as saying that in regions where Islam is not the majority religion, the government plans on developing places of worship and wudhu, or ablution. 

Screenshots of the report from Sindo News, which has since been deleted from their website.

“Many parts of Indonesia are not Muslim [majority]. Such as [Lake] Toba and Bali. There we will provide places of worship and wudhu(ablution) so that they will be comfortable,” Wishnutama allegedly said, as seen in that report. 

While the link to that report no longerworks, the article has solicited enough attention onlinethat it sparked a multitude of reactions across various social media platforms.

It has even led to a comment from Bali Governor I Wayan Koster, who stressed on Monday that the tourism ‘concept’ in Bali should not be disturbed. 

“If Bali were to be attached with taglines, such as halal tourism or Muslim-friendly tourism, then I will firmly reject it. It must not be so. Let Bali grow on its own, according to its culture,” Koster said. 

Now, Wishnutama has come forward to have his say in the controversy; he said he’s never made such a statement. 

“What is most certain is that I have never said anything like that,” Wishnutama said yesterday, as quoted by Detik. 

The new minister said he has no plans on developing tourism in the country to accommodate specific groups, highlighting that tourism should uphold universal values. 

“I am very shocked with this ongoing rumor. I am a very tolerant person and I have respected differences, way before I became a minister. This rumor is just the polar opposite of my principles,” Wishnutama said. 

In addition, Sindo News has actually come forward and corroborated Wishnutama’s claims, and admitted that they made a mistakein the aforementioned report. 

Well, Bali certainly had quite an eventful week with that. It’s probably time for a collective sigh of relief – though only momentarily, as the island is not without other problems to deal with.

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