The Jakarta Post
The Aceh administration is officially implementing the Qanun Jinayat (Islamic Criminal Code Bylaw) on Friday for Muslims and non-Muslims in the province, criminalizing drinking liquor, dating in public and homosexuality, among other things.
The Aceh Islamic Sharia Agency (DSI) held a meeting at Banda Aceh City Hall on Thursday to disseminate information on the implementation of Qanun No. 4/2014, which previously caused controversy as it carried a sentence of stoning, although the punishment was later revoked.
'Through publicizing of the qanun, we hope people will increase their awareness of the implementation of sharia in Aceh,' Banda Aceh Deputy Mayor Zainal Arifin told the meeting, which was attended by ulema prosecutors, lawyers, officials from sharia courts and sharia police.
Zainal hoped that parties involved in the implementation of sharia would have a deep understanding of the bylaw and be able to uphold it.
He said his administration was improving in all aspects, including on sharia.
'The sharia implementation should be aimed at people's awareness of applying it in their lives,' Zainal said.
In relation to protests and criticism on the sharia implementation, which some have considered discriminatory, DSI deputy head Munawar Jalil insisted that it did not violate human rights.
Munawar said the administration would let any party file a judicial review if that party believed the implementation of sharia overlapped with higher laws.
'Yes, please [file a judicial review]. This qanun does not overlap with existing laws in Aceh. It does not violate human rights either,' he said.
He emphasized three important points in the sharia implementation: the people's awareness, the government's political will; and applying the law gradually.
The qanun regulates certain things that are considered crimes according to sharia but not the Criminal Code.
Among the acts considered crimes by Aceh lawmakers are drinking khamar (liquor), khalwat (affectionate contact between an unmarried couple), liwat (gay relationships) and mushadaqah (lesbianism).
While the stoning punishment has been revoked, the qanun still carries caning and paying penalties. Caning sentences vary from 40 to 200 strokes and penalties are between 40 and 2,000 grams of gold.
Apart from being applied to Muslims, the law is also affects non-Muslims in Aceh or non-Muslims who happen to be in the province as stated in Article 5.
Legal observer and social scientist at Syiah Kuala University in Banda Aceh, Saifuddin Bantasyam, once said he thought it would be awkward if sharia was applied to non-Muslims regardless of whether their behavior was categorized as a sharia violation.
'If that was the case then we have to see first whether the qanun is implemented using the principle of individuality or the principle of territoriality,' Saifuddin said.
Besides being considered discriminatory, the bylaw has also been criticized for criminalizing homosexuality.
Earlier this month, the Banda Aceh Sharia Police arrested two young women for allegedly being lesbians after they were seen holding hands and hugging in a public park. The women rejected the accusations, saying they were old friends who had just reunited.
Last year, a 25-year-old Acehnese woman faced being caned by Aceh's sharia police despite being a victim of gang rape at her home in Langsa. The rape took place at her house when the woman, who was in the company of a married man at the time, was observed by nine villagers who were suspicious of the pair's movements.
When the two went inside, the villagers immediately followed, tying up the woman's companion and putting him in a cupboard before allegedly taking turns to rape the woman.
Some of the suspects were arrested while others remain at large. Due to public outcry, the sharia police, which planned to sentence the woman with caning, citing khlawat, released the victim.
'Qanun Jinayat' No. 6/2014
1. This qanun regulates:
a. Perpetrators of crimes;
b. Jarimah (crimes); and
c. Uqubat (punishment).
2. Jarimah includes:
a. Khamar (liquor);
b. Maisir (gambling);
c. Khalwat (indecency);
d. Ikhtilath (free relations between men and women);
e. Zina (sexual relations outside marriage);
f. Sexual harassment;
h. Qadzaf (alleging somebody has committed adultery);
i. Liwath (homosexuality); and
j. Musahaqah (lesbianism).
The qanun is applicable to:
a. All Muslims who commit crimes in Aceh;
b. All non-Muslims who commit crimes along with Muslims and choose to obey the Qanun Jinayat;
c. All non-Muslims who commit crimes that are not regulated in the Criminal Code (KUHP) and others, but regulated by the Qanun Jinayat.
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