New Shariah Law Takes Effect in Aceh

ICC Note: It is troubling that in the same Indonesian province where a Christian church was burned to the ground and several others were destroyed by local authorities in the last week now is proceeding with its imposition of a kind of Shariah law.  Local Christians are appalled by the new law, particularly if it will apply to all citizens.

By Katharina R. Lestari, Jakarta

10/23/2015 Indonesia (

Church leaders in Indonesia’s Aceh province want a new Islamic criminal code to respect non-Muslims living in the predominantly Muslim region.

The local Shariah-based bylaw, called qanun hukum jinayat, took effect Oct. 23 following a one-year introduction to the public. It stipulates harsh punishments, including caning, for a range of offenses, including same-sex relations, drinking alcohol, gambling, adultery, sexual harassment and rape.

Catholic and other Christian leaders worry how the bylaw will be implemented.

“Shariah law is only for Muslims. For non-Muslims, I don’t think they are obliged to follow the legislation,” Father Hermanus Sahar from the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Banda Aceh, the provincial capital, told

Authorities say non-Muslim offenders caught violating the law while with a Muslim person will be given the option of being tried in a Shariah court, or in regular court using the national criminal code.

Baron Perison Pendiangan from the province’s Directorate for Catholic Community Guidance, says the new bylaw should not apply to non-Muslims at all.

“We worry about it. Aceh pushes too hard. Be fair. Aceh is a multicultural, multiethnic and multireligious society,” he told

“If we want to implement Shariah law, it has to be applied to Muslims,” he said, pointing out that Catholicism has its own canon laws that only applies to Catholics.

The Rev. Domidoyo Ratupenu, from the Protestant Church in Western Indonesia, based in Banda Aceh, called the new bylaw unfair.

“There will be injustice if a law is implemented only based on a certain party’s view. The new bylaw is an unfair action by the local government,” he told

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