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ICG: Women, the poor singled out by Aceh sharia enforcers JAKARTA - Women and the poor are experiencing unfair treatment due to overzealous enforcement of sharia bylaws in Nanggroe Aceh Darusssalam, an influential think tank said. The Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG) said in a report made available to The Jakarta Post on Monday that haphazardly recruited, poorly disciplined and inadequately supervised sharia police were practicing a form of moral vigilantism that singled out women and the poor.

In the 25-page report, the ICG recorded numerous instances in which the two groups were targets in anti-vice raids under the bylaws, known as qanun. "Women complain that they are disproportionately the targets of sharia police raids, with far more operations against them for not wearing headscarves, or jilbab, than against men for not attending Friday prayer," the report said.

In depicting the sharia police's unprofessional and discriminatory attitude, it detailed the arrest of three non-governmental activists at a UN seminar for not wearing the jilbab. "If I don't wear the jilbab, that should be between me and my God -- not me and the sharia police," a woman was quoted as saying in the report. The report also disclosed an incident of sharia police personnel intimidating a young woman who returned home after 9 p.m.

The ICG also criticized the use of corporal punishment for alcoholism and gambling that it said was discriminatory. "From the start, the canings have been controversial...because those arrested have been overwhelmingly 'little people', men playing cards for stakes of less than US$1," the report said. Quoting local people dismayed by the implementation of corporal punishment, the ICG questioned the exclusion of gambling rings allegedly protected by the police from crackdowns.

"The sense is high in Aceh that women and the poor are the primary target of sharia enforcement," the report said. Aceh is the only province in the country that has the legal right to apply Islamic law. Numerous legislation has been issued by the central government to give the Acehnese the right to enforce sharia in the province, known for its strong Islamic traditions. The recently endorsed Aceh Governance Law reinforces the province's special status for Islam, with Article 125 stipulating that the enforcement of sharia concerns faith, worship and moral character.

Qanun have been enacted in criminalizing the sale and consumption of alcohol, gambling and illicit relations between men and women. One of the most notorious qanun is No. 11/2002 on the implementation of Islamic law in the areas of faith, worship and dissemination of Islamic teachings. It has been used to punish women who do not wear headscarves in public.



Posted in Religion @ 02 August 2006 10:52 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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