July 8, 2020 / 1:00 PM / a month ago

Indonesia's Aceh censures female cyclists over 'sexy' attire

KUALA LUMPUR, July 8 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A group of Indonesian female cyclists have apologised after they were summoned by authorities in the conservative province of Aceh over their “sexy” attire, an official said on Wednesday.

Photos of nine women and a man, all wearing long-sleeved, pink t-shirts and dark trousers while cycling in Aceh, drew the ire of the mayor after circulating on social media since Sunday.

Most of the women were pictured without an Islamic headscarf under their cycling helmets. The mayor later ordered officers to track down the group.

“They have violated the Islamic sharia provisions in our province which forbid sexy clothing,” Irwan, a spokesman at the provincial government, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from Aceh.

“We summoned them to the office and asked them why they did that. They have admitted their mistake, publicly apologised and said they would not do it again,” said Irwan, who like many Indonesians uses one name.

Aceh, on the western tip of Indonesia, is the only province that practises sharia law, and people have been publicly flogged for selling alcohol, adultery and gay sex.

Many Acehnese support public canings, while local religious police and vigilantes often raid homes and workplaces to detain people on suspicion of criminal behaviour, according to human rights groups.

The government spokesman said the cyclists were allowed to go home after they apologised “voluntarily” on Monday and were given counselling that women should dress modestly under Islamic teachings.

Local media showed video clips of the group apologising for their “regrettable” act.

Reporting by Beh Lih Yi @behlihyi; Editing by Katy Migiro. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org

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