Stoning penalty in Indonesian province of Aceh

Muslims who commit adultery in Indonesia’s semi-autonomous province of Aceh could be stoned to death after the provincial parliament last week passed laws expanding Islamic law.

The new laws, which also include multiple lashings in public for those caught having pre-marital sex, were opposed by women’s groups and the province’s governor, and were rammed through just weeks before a new, far more moderate parliament was to be convened.

The laws also include new punishments for consuming alcohol, rape, pedophilia and homosexuality, although none are as tough as the gruesome death penalty for adulterers.

Bustanul Arifin, a lawmaker from the Islamist Prosperous Justice Party who sits on the committee that oversaw the bill, said some local members of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s Democrat Party disagreed with measures such as the stoning to death, and wanted to reduce the number of lashes, which can be up to 100 for some offences.

”But it was not possible because we based the law on the Koran and the hadith. You cannot decrease it,” Mr Arifin said. The hadith are oral accounts of the prophet Muhammad’s life and times in Saudi Arabia in the 7th century.

Despite the passage of the laws, their future remains uncertain. Mr Arifin said they could be redrafted over the next three days before being handed to the Governor, Irwandi Yusuf.

Also, Indonesia’s home affairs minister and the national parliament could overturn them, if they judge they contravene national laws and Indonesia’s commitment to various international legal conventions.

Aceh, Indonesia’s most devoutly Islamic area, has had a form of sharia, or Islamic law, since 2002. It mandated women to wear headscarves, and public canings for those caught gambling. A sharia police force has been created but many of the provisions of the law have not been enforced due to widespread resentment among citizens.

Elections earlier this year saw Islamic hardliners perform poorly while the secular Partai Aceh, made up of former independence fighters, did well. But the Partai Aceh-dominated parliament will not convene until next month.

http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/world/stoning-penalty-in-indonesian-province-20090915-fo3f.html



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