05/27/2013, 00.00
INDONESIA

Aceh, new pro Sharia norm: women can not dance in public because it "fuels desire"

by Mathias Hariyadi
The norm, issued by the authorities of the district of North Aceh, has already provoked heated debate. According to critics it is a "bizarre" provision and without foundation in Islam. For the district chief dance "fuels" male desire and this is "not right". A choreographer and dancer: worry about corruption, not dance.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Another norm based on Sharia is destined to provoke heated debate in the province of Aceh, the only one in Indonesia - the world's most populous Muslim nation - in which there is Islamic law. The authorities of the district of North Aceh have in fact issued an edict forbidding women to "dance in public." The incident has sparked protests by human rights activists and ordinary citizens, who describe the regulation as "bizarre."

Moreover, the authority of the special territory, in the most western part of the Indonesian archipelago, are no strangers to promulgating laws and regulations (often exclusively directed at women) that are highly unusual and serious source of social unrest: a ban on women straddling motorcycles, police clamp downs on jeans and tight skirts, sectarian tensions that sometimes escalate into Islamist fringe violence against the Christian minority.

The law that forbids women to dance in public, recently completed but already a source of lively debate, was signed by the head of the district of North Aceh Muhammad Thaib.  He claims that the way in which women dance could "easily fuel" corporal desire in men. And, according to the dictates of Islam, "this is not right."

Among the many who have taken to the streets to demonstrate, is a local dancer and choreographer Affandi who says that such regulation is "unfounded" and beyond any logic. "If the authorities want to issue a regulation of any kind - he adds - they would do better to deal with corruption, rather than targeting the arts." Although he accepts the fact that Islam (the local version) prevents women from reciting prayers in public, because their voice could "stir" men. But in the case of dance, "there is no precise legal basis" to implement such a restriction.

 

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