| BANDA ACEH, Indonesia, Sept 14
BANDA ACEH, Indonesia, Sept 14 Muslims who
commit adultery in Indonesia's Aceh province may be stoned to
death under a controversial new sharia law passed by the local
parliament on Monday.
Aceh is the only province in predominantly Muslim Indonesia
to use sharia for its legal code, introduced as part of an
autonomy deal in 2002.
The "qanun jinayat", or sharia law for crimes, covers
adultery, consumption of alcohol, rape and homosexuality,
according to the draft seen by Reuters. Adultery is punishable
by stoning to death, while other punishments include caning,
gold fines and imprisonment.
The new law could come into force as soon as next month.
The provincial government initially proposed the law but
now says it rejects some of the clauses added by parliament and
wants to make some further revisions.
A new parliament will be sworn in next month which may be
more willing to tone down the law, some experts said.
"I disagree with the qanun, because it sounds inhumane, and
it's not (parliament's) business to decide such things,
especially for adultery," said Dian Sukma, a 21-year-old
student. "I believe many people reject this, if they want a
proof, let's do a poll."
Opponents and supporters of the new law demonstrated
outside the parliament on Monday.
"I think this qanun needs to be carefully reviewed and
perfected again. Also does this mean that we probably can't
commit immoralities in Aceh, and we can do it once we are out
of Aceh?" said Muhammad Nazar, Aceh deputy governor.
Aceh, on the far western tip of the Indonesian archipelago,
is sometimes referred to as the "verandah of Mecca" because the
staunchly Muslim province was one of the first parts of the
archipelago to turn to Islam.
Thousands died in a decades-long conflict between
separatists and the military. A further 160,000 died in the
2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, which paved the way for a peace
agreement between the two sides and brought billions of dollars
of foreign aid.
But foreign aid-workers also brought Western influence to
the devout province.
"We feel that it is time now for people to understand the
real meaning of sharia," said Bustanul Arifin, secretary of
Aceh parliament's special committee for drafting the law, and a
member of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS).
"As we can see, foreign cultures have entered Aceh," Arifin
said, adding that Aceh was heading for moral degradation as a
Arifin said he hoped the next parliament would discuss
other crimes, including theft and corruption which could be
punishable by chopping off a hand.
The harshest punishment in the new law is stoning to death
for adultery by a married person, followed by rape, which is
punishable by 100-200 strokes of a rattan cane -- in public --
and 100-200 months in jail. (Additional reporting by Olivia
Rondonuwu in Jakarta; Editing by Sara Webb)