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Muslim body launches own cigarette brand JAKARTA - Indonesia's largest Muslim organisation, the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), has come up with its own brand of kretek cigarettes in an attempt to cash in on the industry's good business. The Tali Jagat ('rope of the universe') kretek hit the market last week after it was launched in the town of Pasuruan, East Java. Mr H. Sulaiman, the head of NU's Sirkah Muawwanah cooperative in Pasuruan, was quoted by Radar Bromo daily as saying: 'NU has a lot of members in Pasuruan. That is why we chose to launch the cigarettes there.'
Guests at the launch, mostly local NU members, thought the cigarettes were 'quite mild and tasted good', according to reports. The cigarettes, priced at 3,500 rupiah (EUR 0,37) per pack of 12, are cheaper than some of the well-known brands. They will be sold mainly to the group's 40 million followers, most of whom live in East Java, NU officials said.
Marketing promotions will be done at Quran reading gatherings in mosques around the province, where worshippers can sample the cigarettes for free. Sirkah Muawwanah cooperative manager Said Affandi said: 'We want our members to buy our own products - after all the profits will eventually go to their own pockets.'
The organisation and its members own a total 40-per-cent stake in the company. One of the country's top cigarette-makers, Bentoel, owns the remaining 60 per cent. NU's latest business venture is another indication of Muslim organisations' continuing expansion into the main- stream business sector. NU runs cooperatives for small- and medium-size enterprises. Its operations include banking, plantations, food production, and publishing.
Its main rival, the 30-million strong Muhammadiyah, has in the past few years gone from running schools and hospitals to more profit-making enterprises such as insurance, retail, fishery, automotive and chemicals. Yet, cigarettes have until recently been an off-limits territory for most of the Islamic groups.
Some smaller and more conservative Islamic groups such as Hawariyun would not even sell cigarettes, along with other 'un-Islamic' goods such as alcoholic beverages, in their supermarket chains. But NU executives dismissed such concerns. They said kretek cigarettes had long been an integral part of NU members' life and some of NU's prominent clerics are known to be chain smokers.
In fact, this is not the first time that NU is involved in the cigarette business. It previously had a minor share in local cigarette maker Retjo Pentung.



Posted in Religion @ 12 January 2003 00:03 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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