Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Today's New York Times reports that under a new Islamic Criminal Code that goes into effect this month, the Shariah police in Aceh, Indonesia, will be wielding a new and more potent threat to the province's citizens and residents: death by stoning for adulterers.
Although most of Indonesia still lives up to its reputation for a moderate, easygoing brand of Islam, Aceh has gone from basic Islamic law to what many observers see as extremism. According to the Times:
Though extreme, Aceh is not an isolated case. In recent years, as part of a decentralization of power away from the capital, Jakarta, at least 50 local governments have used their new authority to pass Shariah-based regulations regarding conduct and dress, though none have gone as far as Aceh to deal with criminal matters.
The Times continues:
Most experts and human rights advocates believe the regulations discriminate against non-Muslim minorities and contravene the country’s Constitution, which guarantees freedom of religion. But the government of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono — a moderate former general whose Muslim credentials have often been questioned by political opponents — has not challenged them. In fact, Mr. Yudhoyono has backed morality-based laws that pleased Muslim conservative allies but angered advocates of human rights.
The president has yet to comment on the stoning provision, leaving it to his aides to quietly criticize it and clearly hoping that the Aceh Parliament will repeal it. Aceh’s governor has said he will refuse to carry out any stonings, and even supporters acknowledge that the punishment will be extremely hard to apply for practical and theological reasons. Nevertheless, because the governor lacks veto power, stoning could remain on the books.