JAKARTA (AFP) – Sales and distribution of alcohol could be banned in some parts of Indonesia after Muslim hardliners won a Supreme Court victory, an official said Friday.
While it is the world's most populous Muslim-majority country, the sale of alcohol for the small number who drink and tourists has until now been allowed.
Some local authorities, where Islamic hardliners are influential, introduced bylaws banning the sale and distribution of alcohol.
But these could never be enforced due to a 1997 presidential decree prohibiting local governments taking it upon themselves to ban the sale of alcohol.
Now a prominent hardline group, the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), has succeeded in getting the decree overturned in a judicial review at the Supreme Court, a spokesman for the court said.
Spokesman Ridwan Mansyur told AFP: "The Supreme Court has accepted the judicial review filed by the FPI...as the presidential decree...failed to bring peace and public order to Indonesian communities."
The court issued the ruling in mid-June but it was only made public in recent days.
The FPI, notorious for conducting raids on "sinful" bars and nightclubs, hailed the victory, which will allow local authorities to enforce the bylaws.
"All Indonesian Muslims are overjoyed," said the head of the FPI's Jakarta branch, Salim Alatas.
"The ruling has saved generations from the negative impact of alcohol."
Reydonnizar Moenek, a senior interior ministry official, said a number of local authorities had issued the bylaws although he did not know how many.
The Jakarta Post newspaper reported that 22 regencies and municipalities, including several in and around the capital Jakarta, had issued the bans.