Aceh, love affairs contrary to sharia: 14 young men flogged in seven days
by Mathias Hariyadi

The condemned are all in late adolescence or 20 years old and include a Buddhist.  The police caught him inside a hotel room, with a woman who is not his wife.  About 98% of the five million residents in the province are Muslims.  Those who are not, can choose between corporal punishment and prison.



Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Flogged because they had relationships contrary to sharia: One of the 14 punished by the authorities of the Indonesian province of Aceh - "a special territory” of the island of Sumatra where Islamic law is in force, is a young Buddhist man.

Last August 1, dozens of people were present when 11 people were taken to the square from a mosque in the center of Banda Aceh, the provincial capital.  In the presence of Mayor Aminullah Usman, the executioner rained on the backs of the condemned between eight and 32 lashes with a cane (rattan).  The authorities had surprised the six men and five women - all in late adolescence or twenties - having relations with people of the opposite sex.

Officials provided details only of the case of the only non-Muslim defendant, a Buddhist identified with the initials R.O.  (photo).  The police caught him inside a hotel room, with a woman who was not his wife.  Usually, non-Muslims can choose whether to be punished or not under Islamic law, known in the region as Quanun.  Therefore R.O.  chose 27 lashes to avoid a lengthy judicial proceeding and imprisonment.

 The next day, Mayor Usman warned hotels and businesses: "We have warned hotels not to even think about breaking the rules by renting rooms to unmarried couples.  Otherwise, we will revoke their licenses," he told reporters.

On 31 July, three people from Lhokseumawe (a village a few hours from Banda Aceh) were whipped 100 times each for having premarital sex.  Among these was a 19-year-old who had relations with an under-age girl.

 About 98% of Aceh's five million residents are Muslims.  Sharia came into force around 2005 following a peace agreement between Jakarta and the Movement for the liberation of Aceh (Gam), an Islamic separatist group.  According to Islamic law, even "cuddles" are part of a series of crimes (such as gambling, consumption of alcohol or extramarital affairs) punishable by a specific number of lashes.