The Indonesian city of Banda Aceh has banned celebrations of Valentine’s Day this weekend, arguing the holiday violates Islamic law.
“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 gifting flowers and chocolates to loved ones. Businesses cannot display Valentine’s Day decorations.
The local police will monitor the streets and businesses on Sunday. Authorities will “re-educate” anyone who violates the law.
The city also banned New Year’s Eve celebrations because the holiday does not fall under Islamic culture.
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 introduce sharia.”
Last month, officials caned Nur Elita in public because she “showed affection” towards a male she is not married to. 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 lesbians. They announced the women confessed to their “crime” and were sentenced 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 the woman.
“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.”
The curfew came a month after the city of North Aceh outlawed unmarried couples from riding a motorcycle together. The officials claim the action could tempt the riders to commit “sinful acts.”
“Unmarried people sitting closely together on a motorcycle is clearly against Islamic Sharia as it could lead to sinful acts,” said politician Fauzan Hamzah. “We will make efforts so that deeds which can lead to sin are eliminated gradually in North Aceh district.”