Oct 20 2011
The Indonesian island of Sabang is having trouble marketing itself as a tourist destination because it’s ruled by strict Islamic law. But that doesn’t stop this bikini-clad tourist from going there, because she was told it is safe…as long as she doesn’t venture into town without being covered from head to toe.
APM In Indonesia, the world’s biggest Muslim country, thoughts are far from anti-government violence — more along the lines of government-sponsored tourism. But strict Sharia law in some places isn’t helping at all. There are fewer than 10 international-style hotels on Sabang right now, because Sabang has some image issues as far as tourism goes because it’s part of Aceh, the only Indonesian province under Sharia, or Islamic, law.
In Aceh, Sharia means, among other things, no alcohol, no bikinis, and unmarried couples better not go out in public. A sign on the mainland of Aceh says, “If you are alone with someone who is not a family member, you invite a third, Satan.”
The hotel owner, Freddie Rousseau, a former UN socialist, likes it just the way it is. The Sabang government is considering having more enclaves, special places like Freddie’s where Sharia law doesn’t apply and tourists can feel more comfortable wearing bikinis and having a beer. For now.