Jun 3 2010
There is no such thing as a moderate Islamic state, eventually they all end up “GOING MUSLIM.”
Now in Indonesia, Shari’a police in the province of Aceh are stopping women dressed in jeans and forcing them to change into long government issued skirts.
The semiautonomous province on the northern island of Sumatra has the highest proportion of Muslims in the country. In order to bring an end to decades of fighting between Muslim separatists and the army, the national government consented to the adoption of Sharia law in Aceh in 2002. To enforce the new laws, a special unit of police, called Wilayatul Hisbah or “the vice and virtue patrol”, was established.
On 26 May, the West Aceh district of the province intensified their crackdown on women wearing tight fitting trousers by issuing the local police with 20,000 long skirts. Women who are stopped at checkpoints for breaching the bylaw are now furnished with a skirt and have their trousers confiscated. The women cannot be arrested however.
Along with the law – which was passed in 2005 and demands loose fitting, long-sleeved tops and a long headscarf which covers the neck – the Aceh province has also brought in laws which ban homosexual relations, the consumption of alcohol, and relations between unmarried people of the opposite sex. The most recent law, passed in parliament in September 2009, will see adulterers stoned to death if it is passed by the provincial governor.
The regulations have shocked human rights activists in the rest of Indonesia, which is a secular state whose 200 million Muslims follow a moderate form of the religion.
People here are surprised by just how constraining Islamic law is in practice
The problem is that the clothing policy in Aceh is confusing for women. For a start, almost all women in Aceh wear long pants rather than a skirt. After all, our traditional dress comprises long pants and a blouse. No skirt. Secondly, regulations differ between districts; but in West Aceh [where the skirts are being distributed] the law applies not only to residents but also to Muslim women who are only visiting the district.
As a result, people are nervous. On the one hand they are happy because their religious beliefs are being formally acknowledged, but on the other hand they are surprised by just how constraining Islamic law is in practice. What we have in Aceh is a silent majority; people keep their mouths shut because they’re afraid to resist and to get called an enemy of Islam’. There is no institution that is tough enough to fight against this level of intimidation. OBSERVERS.france.24