06/11/2012, 00.00
INDONESIA
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West Java: Tasikmalaya authorities impose Sharia law and compulsory veil

by Mathias Hariyadi
The objective is to strengthen moral and traditional values. The "morals police " that does not refer to the Islamic courts, but to civil justice. Jakarta politician: "unconstitutional and discriminatory." Protests of women: the veil is not a "matter of state" but a personal choice.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Activists and members of civil society in different parts of Indonesia have strongly criticized the proposal of the authority of the District of Tasikmalaya (West Java) to introduce norms inspired by sharia, or Islamic law, by mid-July ahead of the start of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting and prayer. The obligations will be the imposition of the veil for all women - foreign and local, and non-Muslim - better known in the archipelago as the jilbab.

The officials of the municipalities also plan to form a local "moral police", called to ensure compliance with the rules laid down in Islamic law and trials in courts against anyone who breaks the rules. However, the authority considers the application of Sharia law will not be the same as in the province of Aceh. The "moral police", in fact, will not report the culprits to the Islamic courts, but to civil courts which will issue fines or penalties.

Since 2009 the municipality of Tasikmalaya has been discussing the introduction of Islamic law, among the reasons for the choice, according to the Mayor Syarif Hidayat, the fact that the city is an overwhelming Muslim majority. The rules will also govern the conduct of life of unmarried men and women, including a norm banning women from leaving the house alone. All of this, the promoters feel, aims to minimize behavior that is "contrary to morality" such as premarital sex among adolescents and adults.

After weeks of controversy and confrontation, the mayor Syarif Hidayat has broken his silence to deny the hypothesis of a strict application of Islamic law. What we want to "impose" warned the official, only "local rules" which aim to promote "social and moral values" according to the dictates of Islam and local traditions of Tasikmalaya.

"I do hope - said Hidayat - that the city of Tasikmalaya will be freed from all kinds of misleading conduct, which disadvantages  everybody". And that he will not force "non-Muslims" to practice specific Islamic morals, but there are some "customs" that all are equally bound to respect.

Meanwhile, the proposal has sparked controversy and criticism. In Jakarta Eva Kusuma Sundari, a national politician strongly condemns the plan, saying that the laws inspired by sharia are "unconstitutional and discriminatory." Even in the same Tasikmalaya dozens of Muslim women protested vigorously, pointing out that the imposition of the veil "is not a matter of state" but a personal choice.

 

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