Muslim Cleric Urge Indonesians To Stop Fornicating

A Muslim cleric has urged Indonesians, in particular teenagers, to stop having sex out of wedlock to avoid worsening the country's morality, a local report said Friday.

'The moral damage caused by pre-marital sexual behaviour has negative effects that are far worse than the tsunami disaster in Aceh province in 2004,' cleric Abdul Rasyid said after leading regular Friday prayers at a mosque within the Presidential Palace grounds.

Around 177,000 people were killed in Indonesia's Aceh province after an earthquake-triggered tsunami struck nine Asian countries on December 26, 2004. In all, more than 220,000 people perished in the international disaster.

'Research has shown that almost 50 per cent of Indonesian girls have sex out of wedlock, which will ruin us,' Rasyid said, according to the state-run Antara news agency.

Indonesia is the world's largest Muslim-majority nation but has a secular government and constitution. The vast majority of the country's 190 million Muslims practice a moderate version of Islam, and drinking, smoking and pre-marital sex are commonplace within society.

Some Indonesian nationalists and moderate Muslim leaders have warned about back-door attempts by conservative and hard-line Muslims groups to change the constitution to make Indonesia an Islamic state.

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