Indonesia: Elderly Christian Woman Caned for Violating Sharia

Indonesian authorities have publicly caned an elderly Christian woman for selling alcohol. It is the first time they have punished anyone outside of Islam under Sharia Law.

“This is the first case of a non-Muslim being punished under Islamic criminal by-law,” confirmed Lili Suparli, a senior official at the Central Aceh prosecutor’s office.

The woman received 30 lashes “with a rattan cane before a crowd of hundreds in Aceh province.” It is the only province that still applies Sharia law in the Muslim-dominant country.

Aceh often hosts public canings, which draw “huge crowds.”

The Aceh province “enacted a strict Islamic criminal code” last October. The code criminalizes “adultery, homosexuality, and public displays of affection outside of a legally recognized relationship.” Non-Muslims can choose a trial under Sharia or “regular Indonesian criminal code.”

The province received “special autonomy in 2005 as part of an agreement with Jakarta to end decades of separatist violence – and was then able [to] introduce sharia.”

Aceh banned Valentine’s Day celebrations in February.

“Our society and the Muslim youth should certainly not be celebrating non-Islamic holidays,” declared Mayor Illiza Saaduddin Djamal. “The law says it is haram. The government is obliged to protect the public and younger generation from unlawful acts.”

The law forbids everyone from giving flowers and chocolates to loved ones on that day. Businesses cannot display Valentine’s Day decorations.

Last month, officials caned Nur Elita in public because she “showed affection” towards a male to whom she is not married. They gave her five lashes, which required immediate medical attention. Deputy Mayor Zainal Arifin witnessed the incident.

In October, police arrested two women at a tourist resort on allegations of being gay. They announced the women confessed to their “crime” and sentenced the women to rehabilitation.

“They later confessed to be a lesbian couple and that was supported by pictures found on their handphones,” commented police chief Evendi Latief. “They will undergo rehabilitation which involves psychologists from local Social Ministry office.”

Officials passed a curfew for women in June. The law forbids “women from working or attending entertainment venues late at night, legally requiring them to be home by 11pm.” The authorities told businesses they cannot serve any woman past that hour unless a male guardian accompanies her.

“Our aim is to provide protection to female employees, especially those who work in area such as cafes, restaurants, internet cafes and tourist attractions,” explained the Mayor. “Women in Aceh are vulnerable to sexual harassment so we want to protect them from untoward incidents.”


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