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Govt wants non-Muslims tried by Islamic court in Aceh JAKARTA - The government insisted Tuesday that Muslims and non-Muslims alike in Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam should be tried by the planned Islamic Court in the predominantly Muslim province. State Secretary Yusril Ihza Mahendra told the special committee deliberating a bill on the province's administration that non-Muslims accused of committing ordinary crimes, such as theft and adultery, would be tried under the sharia-inspired bylaws (qanun).

Yusril, responding the proposal of several legislators who wanted non-Muslims to be given the freedom to choose under which law they would be tried, said it would only create legal uncertainty. "Should such freedom be given, non-Muslims will certainly choose to be tried under the Criminal Code because it carries more lenient punishment," Yusril told the hearing, held to discuss the authority of the planned Islamic Court, also known as Mahkamah Sharia.

Yusril said that in the case of adultery, non-Muslims who committed adultery with Muslims would undoubtedly opt for trial by the Criminal Code because it was more lenient than the stoning or other forms of corporal punishment stipulated under Islamic Law. A number of factions, such as the Christian-based Prosperous Peace Party (PDS) and the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), have proposed that non-Muslims be given the freedom to choose under which law they would be tried for ordinary crimes.

Yusril said later in the hearing that non-Muslims could be exempted for trial by the Islamic Court only in cases related to domestic matters, such as distribution of wealth as well as business and monetary issues. He added details about the Islamic Court would await the drawing up of more bylaws. "It is these qanun that will decide who will be tried under which law," Yusril said.

The court constitutes one of the focal points in the bill on Aceh administration because it is widely considered the ultimate recognition from the central government of Acehnese basic values, which have been defined by Islam. Bylaws dealing with adultery, alcoholism, gambling and obscenity are already on the books.

Discussions about the Islamic Court and other substantial issues in the bill have resulted in the House and the government failing to meet the original March 30 deadline for its passage. Legislators now agree that two more months is a realistic target, especially as there is no longer the intensity of early deliberations.

Lawmaker Permadi of the PDI-P faction, who is also a member of the special committee, alleged the simmering down of the debates was connected to payments made to committee members by the Home Ministry. Permadi, speaking during a meeting with people from Aceh Leuser Antara and Aceh Barat Selatan regencies who are seeking the establishment of a new province covering the areas, said the handouts were intended to expedite the deliberation of the bill and "silence" the formerly vociferous opposition.

"I never saw the money. But I heard that the Home Ministry provided Rp 1.6 billion (US$181,549.9) for 50 special committee members. So you can guess how much individual members got," Permadi said.



Posted in Religion @ 26 April 2006 21:33 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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