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Newspapers blast 'Dark Ages' laws in Indonesian province of Aceh

New Islamic Sharia laws in Indonesian province of Aceh propose flogging gay people and making it illegal for women passengers to straddle motorbikes

Newspapers blast 'Dark Ages' laws in Indonesian province of Aceh

Editorials in The Jakarta Post and The Bangkok Post have slammed authorities in the Indonesian province of Aceh for introducing new Islamic Sharia laws that include flogging gay people and banning women passengers from straddling motorbikes.

‘When the New Year chimed in parts of Aceh, Indonesia, the calendar rolled over from 2012 to 1413,’ said the editorial in The Bangkok Post.

‘A raft of new laws not only overrode Indonesia’s national laws with Sharia. They also brought back stoning, whipping and punishments out of the Dark Ages for adultery and the crime of being gay.’

The editorial in The Jakarta Post was similarly condemnatory:

‘Seriously, you have to have a dirty, sick, indecent mind to find it improper for a woman to straddle pillion: Forget her safety, she is displaying her curves and look – her legs are apart.’

Mayor of Lhokseumawe city Suaidi Yahya, who is implementing the law, said:

‘Women sitting on motorbikes must not sit astride because it will provoke the mail driver… It’s improper for women to sit astride. We implement Islamic law here.’

Indonesia is majority Muslim but Aceh is the only province ruled by Sharia law. Aceh has been implementing Sharia laws since it was granted special autonomy in 2001, following years of violent insurgency against rule from Jakarta.

Indonesia’s central government Home Affairs Minister Gamawan Fauzi said on Monday that they would review Aceh’s bylaws. The government has the power to annul the laws. 

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