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02/11/2021 Indonesia (International Christian Concern) – Two Christian men were publicly caned on Monday in Indonesia’s Aceh province for drinking alcoholic beverages and gambling.

The flogging took place less than two weeks after a male couple was caned each nearly 80 times for having same-sex sexual relations, something that is prohibited under the province’s Sharia law.

On February 8, the two Christian men received 40 lashes each from a Sharia officer, who hit them on the back with a stick.

One of them, JF, said he chose to be flogged to avoid imprisonment of up to six months. “The Sharia police gave us a choice, and we chose punishment based on the qanun (Islamic law). There is no coercion,” he told AFP.

Aceh is the only province in Indonesia that enforces Islamic Law. Non-Muslims who violate national law and Sharia law can choose to be prosecuted by any system.

The caning of non-Muslims is rare. Only a handful of people have been convicted for crimes in recent years, including gambling and selling alcohol.

The two Christians were among seven people who were publicly caned in the province on Monday. The other five were Muslims who were caned for committing adultery and drinking alcohol, both violations of Sharia law.

Rights groups have denounced the flogging, calling it cruel. President Joko Widodo has called for an end to the practice.

For interviews please contact Alison Garcia at [email protected].