Coming Soon in Aceh: Shariah Law for Non-Muslims

Female officers of the Aceh Public Order Agency (Satpol PP), who are also involved in enforcing Shariah-based laws. (Antara Photo/Irwansyah Putra

By : Nurdin Hasan & Adelia Anjani Putri | on 5:40 PM September 22, 2014
Category : News, Crime, Featured, Human Rights, Religion

Female officers of the Aceh Public Order Agency (Satpol PP), who are also involved in enforcing Shariah-based laws. (Antara Photo/Irwansyah Putra Female officers of the Aceh Public Order Agency (Satpol PP), who are also involved in enforcing Shariah-based laws. (Antara Photo/Irwansyah Putra)

[Updated at 10:15 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 22, 2014]

Banda Aceh/Jakarta. The Aceh provincial administration should put a plan to impose Shariah on non-Muslims on hold for now, legal experts and politicians said Monday as lawmakers in the province are set to pass the law this week.

Nasir Jamil, a Jakarta-based lawyer and senior politician of the Islamist Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), said Aceh is privileged as it can implement Shariah.

But he added that there should be more elaborate discussion on the issue so it really could prevent crime.

“On one hand, the law may only apply in Aceh, on the other hand, it may cause inequality and discrimination as people may decide which law they want to follow,” Nasir, who is an Acehnese, told the Jakarta Globe.

“The committee came to me to express concern about how many who commit crimes in Aceh aren’t Aceh residents. I think the law should be delayed.

“They are rushing to get this done before the inauguration of new members. I think they should be more careful, and of course, not everyone will respect the law.”

Citing the need to end discrimination, Aceh lawmakers plan to pass a bylaw this week that would impose a Shariah-based criminal code on both Muslims and non-Muslims, with offenders facing lengthy caning sessions or jail terms for acts that are legal elsewhere in Indonesia.

Moharriadi Syafari, the secretary of Commission G of the Aceh Legislative Council (DPRA), which oversees religious affairs, culture and tourism, said the council planned to pass the bylaw during its plenary session this week.

A draft of the local criminal code known as Qanun Jinayat, obtained by the Jakarta Globe includes a clause that stipulates that a non-Muslim caught violating Shariah would be given the option of being tried at a Shariah court or at a regular court, based on the national criminal code.

However, if the act is considered a crime under Shariah but not under the national criminal code, even non-Muslim violators would be tried based on the regulations stipulated in the Qanun Jinayat.

The maximum punishment under the Shariah-based code is 200 strokes of the cane, a fine worth the price of 2 kilograms of gold or 200 months in jail.

Convicted child rapists, for instance, would face punishment of 150-200 strokes of the cane or a fine of between 1.5kg and 2kg of gold or a prison sentence of 150 to 200 months.

Engaging in homosexual acts — which is not a crime under the national criminal code — would fall under the category of unlawful sexual intercourse, or zina , which is punishable by a maximum of 100 lashes, a kilogram of gold or 100 months in jail.

Buying or carrying alcoholic beverages — also allowed elsewhere in the country — would result in at least 10 strokes of the cane or 10 months in prison, with a maximum fine of 100 grams of gold.

The new Qanun Jinayat could affect at least 90,000 non-Muslims currently living in the province.

The bylaw would go into effect one year after it is passed.

Moharriadi, who is also from the PKS, argued that the new bylaw was based on the Aceh special autonomy law of 2006.

“The clause in question in the Qanun Jinayat was taken in whole from Article 11 of the Law on Governing Aceh, so the article wasn’t made in Aceh, it was made by the House of Representatives in Jakarta,” he said.

Moharriadi explained that the bylaw had been discussed with all stakeholders, including the Religious Affairs Ministry Justice and Human Rights Ministry, Home Affairs Ministry and the Supreme Court.

“Every time we deliberated the bylaw in Jakarta nobody makes a fuss about the clause because it has been clearly mentioned in the Law on Governing Aceh,” he said. “If we didn’t include the clause we would have broken the law.”

Moharriadi said the clause was meant to provide a sense of justice by treating all lawbreakers equally, regardless of their religious beliefs.

Teungku Faisal Ali, head of the Aceh branch of Nahdlatul Ulama, also said the bylaw would not discriminate against non-Muslims because they would still be able to worship and conduct their religious activities as they wish.

“Please don’t portray this bylaw as if it mistreats non-Muslims, because the clause does not force Islamic Shariah on non-Muslims — they still can pray according to their religion,” Teungku said.

Rights activists have expressed serious concerns about the proposed bylaw, saying it would lead to severe violations of the civil rights of people in Aceh.

Domidoyo Ratupenu, a priest and Aceh-based interfaith activist, said he had raised the issue with the DPRA, but that he felt his concern was ignored.

“Personally I reject all discriminative laws and bylaws based on primordialist beliefs and that fail to consider the nation’s sociopolitical reality,” Domidoyo said.

“Indonesia is a pluralistic nation that has Pancasila as its ideology and appreciates diversity.”

Meanwhile, University of Indonesia law professor Jimly Asshidqie suggested that people who object to the law should file for a review with the Constitutional Court.

“The Constitutional Court can decide whether the Qanun Jinayat law violates the constitution,” he said.


Show More