Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Aceh government rejects Shariah bylaw

Flag of Aceh.Image via Wikipedia
Source: fridae

The Aceh provincial government says it will not sign the controversial bylaw; Indonesia's Home Minister Mardiyanto: The new bylaw would be “detrimental” to the Acehnese and would “frighten” visitors and investors.

The Aceh provincial government says it will not sign the controversial Shariah (Islamic) bylaw (qanun) allowing adulterers to be stoned to death and homosexuals whipped, the Jakarta Post reported.

The report last Friday quoted Hamid Zein, the head of the legal bureau of the Aceh governor's office, as saying on Thursday that the administration has firmly rejected the bylaw passed by the legislative council on Sep 14.

"As long as the executive and legislative bodies do not settle differences in the application of [capital punishment by] stoning, the Aceh government will not sign the bylaw," Hamid said.

Aceh, an autonomous province and the country’s only province with special provisions allowing it to have Islamic Sharia-based laws.

Signaling the first time the central government had intervened in the issuance of rules and legislation by the Aceh administration and council, Indonesia’s Home Minister Mardiyanto said the government would file a review to the Supreme Court, and the laws are "detrimental" to the Acehnese and would "frighten" visitors and investors, as well as possibly not respecting the [national] constitution.

Under the controversial regulation, men and women found guilty of adultery could be stoned to death publicly, while individuals engaging in premarital sex or homosexual sex may get 100 lashes, fined or jailed. The bylaw, which is applicable to Muslims and non-Muslims, will also provide for penalties for all parties proved to have "facilitated" such acts including hotels and entertainment venues.

Aceh's Sharia laws already prohibit the sale or consumption of alcohol, gambling or meeting a person of the opposite sex - who is not a spouse or family member - in a private place.

According to media reports, the local law (qanun) will punish homosexuality and lesbianism with 100 lashes of the whip, 1 kilogram of gold, or 100 months in prison.

When asked, Toni Almuna, an activist working with civil society groups in Aceh told Fridae: "The type of punishment (lashes, fine or imprisonment) is to be decided by the judge, so for example if someone is proven to commit adultery, the judge will decide which punishment he/she deserves. If he/she is sentenced to pay fine (gold) it will be paid to the government."

The bylaw is being seen as a last-ditch move by conservative Islamic lawmakers to push through the new laws before a new council takes over in early October. The new council is said to be dominated by supporters of the current government under Irwandy Yusuf, the Aceh Party, mostly comprising former members of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM), whose leadership is renowned for not supporting Sharia law in Aceh.

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