A photo that circulated recently on social media showing two women in Hong Kong wearing traditional garments and carrying two flags bearing an Islamic creed has stirred up some concern in the city and in Indonesia, where the photo was also circulated.
The photo showed two women clad in garments that covered them from head to toe posing with the flags at Shing Mun Reservoir in the New Territories, Oriental Daily reported.
Another woman dressed the same traditional garb was shown taking a picture of them.
The women held their flags up high, one of which was white and the other black, and both bordered in gold.
The photo was circulated among Indonesians in Hong Kong and disseminated to Indonesia, but the report did not say when the photo was taken.
The wording on the flag was the Shahada, an Islamic creed declaring the oneness of God (tawhid) and the acceptance of Muhammad as God’s prophet, according to Agus, an Indonesian journalist working in Hong Kong.
He said he could not tell whether the three women were members of a radical Islamic group but he could not rule out the possibility that they were affiliated with an organization banned by the Indonesian government named Hizb ut-Tahrir, as the flags shown in the photo were often used by that group.
Some Hong Kong netizens expressed concern, recalling that in 2015, local media reported that supporters of the extremist organization Islamic State (ISIS) distributed leaflets to Indonesian domestic workers in the city’s Victoria Park.
Last year, the Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict issued a report claiming that at least 43 of the more than 150,000 Indonesian domestic workers in Hong Kong had been lured by ISIS recruiters and radicalized.
Some netizens in Indonesia also showed their concerns over the photo. They criticized the women, saying they should not use these flags to promote their hardline beliefs to frighten Hong Kong people.
Others worried that the photo would provoke another round of misunderstanding and criticism against Muslims.