Indonesian governor orders mass prayer sessions to stop adultery

JAKARTA (AFP) - An Indonesian governor said on Wednesday he has ordered all civil servants in a central province to attend mass prayer sessions and religious sermons in a bid to stop adultery.

It was just the latest attempt by Mr Rusli Habibie to encourage government employees in Gorontalo province - which is mainly Muslim like most parts of the vast archipelago - to stay faithful.

He enacted a local law earlier this month requiring all government employees regularly to pray together and attend half-hour sermons each Friday in the hope it would discourage them from cheating on spouses.

"I have heard so many reports of married civil servants cheating. They have one girlfriend or boyfriend one day, and another the next. They are not allowed to do this," Mr Habibie told AFP. "Their behaviour is destroying the image of the government. They cannot do this," he added, rejecting criticism that infidelity was a private matter.

In March last year Mr Habibie gave instructions that male civil servants' salaries be paid into their wives' bank accounts to stop them spending cash on their mistresses, saying men with money were "unable to control themselves".

In July he banned male employees from having female secretaries. He said the secretaries often became the men's mistresses and were given gifts of "perfume and branded bags" while their wives were neglected.

More than 90 per cent of Indonesia's 250 million people are Muslim, with most practising a moderate form of Islam.

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