Death of ‘forbidden’ pet dog at Indonesia resort puts spotlight on ‘halal tourism’

·2-min read
Representational: A dog was reportedly left to die inside a cabbage crate at an Indonesian resort  (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Representational: A dog was reportedly left to die inside a cabbage crate at an Indonesian resort (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

An incident where a dog was left to die inside a cabbage crate in Indonesia has sparked a debate on the meaning of “halal tourism.”

On 23 October, a black canine named Canon had died after it was reportedly seized by local government officials from a resort in the Aceh province, off Sumatra island in a bid to comply with sharia law.

In a viral social media video, a group of police officers can be seen chasing away the dog using a piece of wood. Another officer was seen hitting the dog with a branch of a tree.

Ahmad Yani, the chief of Aceh province’s municipal police, denied that the dog died because of violence and claimed that the animal perished from stress while being transported to another location.

The dog had suffocated inside the crate before the owner located the animal.

After videos of the alleged cruelty against the dog went viral, #JusticeForCanon started trending on Indonesian Twitter.

An online petition calling for a thorough investigation into the incident has gained over 130,000 signatures to date.

Aceh, located in the northwest tip of the Sumatra island, used to be a region that faced civil strife. It is now, however, a popular tourist destination among Muslim travellers as it is the only province in the Muslim-majority country that abides by sharia law.

Slamming the inhuman treatment towards the dog, Indonesia's minister of tourism and creative economy Sandiaga Salahuddin Uno said “all forms of violence against animals are not part of halal [permitted] tourism.”

“Again, I want to clarify that halal tourism is a form of extension of services or convenience for Muslim-friendly-based tourism. The goal is to meet the needs of visitors/tourists who are Muslim, where this potential can be utilised to open up more job opportunities,” he said.

With over a 90 per cent Muslim population, Indonesia has a goal to become one of the centres of the world’s halal industry by 2024. The country is trying to boost its tourism industry by attracting Muslim travellers to compensate for the dwindling number of foreign tourists as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ten provinces in Indonesia, including East Nusa Tenggara, Aceh, the Riau Islands, West Sumatra, West Java, Jakarta, Central Java, Yogyakarta, East Java and South Sulawesi fall under “halal tourism” destinations.

These areas are also reportedly sharia law complaint, which involves banning the consumption of alcohol, gambling and other things forbidden by traditional Islamic law.

The Indonesian government has increased conveniences such as corners for ablution and more halal food options for Muslim travellers.

Muslim-friendly tourism was projected to bring in over $220bn globally in 2020 before the pandemic struck, according to a South China Morning Post report.

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