An organization owned by the mayor of New York City has channeled over US$390,000 to Muhammadiyah as part of a global anti-tobacco campaign, but the country’s second largest Islamic organization denied the funding influenced its recent edict banning smoking.
A. Fattah Wibisono, a deputy secretary at Muhammadiyah’s council tasked with issuing religious edicts, acknowledged that his organization was cooperating with the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use, a philanthropic organization established in 2006 by Michael R. Bloomberg to fight tobacco use in low- and middle-income countries.
The US$125 million global initiative was extended with a new $250 million commitment in 2008. The initiative funds related projects in Indonesia and many other countries. Its website says that Muhammadiyah was a recipient of grants totaling US$393,234 from November 2009 to October 2011.
Other recipients include the Bogor City Health Agency, National Commission for Child Protection (Komnas PA), and the Demographic Institute at the University of Indonesia’s School of Economics.
The Bloomberg Initiative says on its website, www.tobaccocontrolgrants.org, its program with Muhammadiyah aims “to mobilize public support towards obtaining religious policy on tobacco control and to support FCTC [Framework Convention on Tobacco Control] accession”.
Muhammadiyah issued an edict banning its followers from smoking on Wednesday, basing its argument on the Koran, which bans Muslims from taking their own lives. It also urged the government and the House of Representatives to ratify the FCTC.
Fattah, however, maintained that the council did not receive funding to issue the edict.
“Muhammadiyah is committed to creating a clean environment and a healthy society. We have a program for that and Bloomberg knew of this program and they offered [to fund it],” he told The Jakarta Post.