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Govt set to examine sharia bylaws JAKARTA - The Home Affairs Ministry will review regional bylaws amid the issuance of sharia-based regulations by several administrations, which critics say impinge on the rights of minorities. "We have asked local administrations to send their regional bylaws for evaluation," Home Affairs Minister M. Ma'ruf confirmed Monday. The review process would also involve other related ministries, he added.

Ma'ruf stated that all local regulations that contravened national laws or the Constitution would be rescinded. Since 2001's introduction of regional autonomy, which allows local administrations to issue their own regulations, bylaws promoting sharia, or Islamic law, have been issued by regencies and mayoralties. Padang, West Sumatra, Cianjur, West Java, and Bulukumba, South Sulawesi, are among areas introducing sharia-based regulations, including requiring women to conform to Islamic tenets on attire in public as well as the ability to read the Koran.

After an outcry from rights groups and activists, the government has reiterated that religious matters do not come under the jurisdiction of local administrations. "Religious affairs are matters for the central government," Director General of Regional Autonomy Kausar Ali Saleh said Monday. Local administrations, through the amended 2004 Regional Autonomy Law, are given the autonomy to handle governmental duties, but it does not extend to all spheres.

Religion is one issue that does not come under the authority of local administrations, along with foreign affairs, defense and security, judicial and national monetary issues, as stipulated in Article 10 of the law. Scholars and politicians also expressed alarm at the unhindered issuance of the regulations, which they fear could carry the potential to sow conflict among religious groups and also discriminate against women.

They have criticized the government's failure to bring the administrations into line, especially as it has the power to cancel the bylaws. According to Article 145 of the law, the government can cancel local regulations that contravene national laws and the Constitution. According to the same article, local administrations should provide copies of their bylaws to the central government within seven days of their issuance.

The article also states that the government, through the issuance of a presidential decree, must act within 60 days after receiving a bylaw for review if it wishes to rescind it. If the government does not act within the designated period, the bylaw is automatically legal. The government has yet to cancel any bylaws supporting the implementation of sharia, with some dating back to 2003.



Posted in Religion @ 09 February 2006 17:52 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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