In a strange twist, 88% of the population is not allowed to trade crypto, but the rest are free to do whatever they want.
About 88% of Indonesia’s population has been banned from trading in cryptocurrency after being deemed a sin by a religious council.
The National Council of Ulemas, or MUI, said on Friday that the cryptocurrency was “haram,” meaning prohibited by Islamic law.
Asrorun Niam Sholeh, head of religious decrees, said cryptocurrency was banned because it “involves elements of uncertainty, betting and prejudice,” according to Bloomberg.
Known for its wild swings and speculative nature, cryptocurrency is known to rise or fall huge percentages in a single day.
However, Mr. Sholeh offered a caveat to allow some form of cryptocurrency trading to continue in the Southeast Asian country.
Mr. Sholeh provided a way out of the ban for crypto enthusiasts.
He said if the cryptocurrency could follow Sharia law by showing a clear benefit to society, then it could be traded.
The Indonesian government has been pro-cryptocurrency with plans for a ETF later this year.
While the ban threw a wrench into the works, it won’t completely stop cryptocurrency trading in the country.
The remaining 12% of the Indonesian population, who are not Islamic, are free to do whatever they want with the blockchain.
Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population with over 200 million people. Its finance ministry and central bank consult with the MUI before making important decisions concerning the Islamic population.
The country has been criticized by human rights groups in the past for its harsh punishments against violators of religious rules, with its ultra-conservative neighborhood of Aceh known for its public beatings.
Other Muslim countries have taken a markedly different approach to cryptocurrency.
Bahrain has supported crypto assets since 2019, when they weren’t as mainstream and traditional.
In the United Arab Emirates, cryptocurrency can only be exchanged in free zones, its capital, Dubai, containing more than 30.
China, although not at all a predominantly Muslim country, sensationalized cryptocurrency in late September during a massive tech crackdown.
“Business activities linked to virtual currencies are illegal financial activities,” the People’s Bank of China said at the time.
The central bank said the violators would be subject to “criminal liability investigation according to the law.”
The notice bans all related financial activities involving cryptocurrencies, such as trading in crypto, selling tokens, transactions involving virtual currency derivatives, and “illegal fundraising.”