Can playing games at a children’s carnival get you flogged in Muslim Indonesia? Apparently so, after two Indonesian Christians were publicly flogged in conservative Aceh province. The punishment took place in front of 300 onlookers who took and posted pictures on social media. The pair were among five people — including a couple whipped two dozen times each for showing affection in public — who were beaten.
Banda Aceh may be familiar to readers as it was in the bulls-eye of the huge tsunami that hit after Christmas 2004. Hundreds of millions of dollars poured into the region, including money and aid from American Christian aid organizations. Aceh is the only province in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country that imposes sharia law and people can be flogged for a range of offences including children’s games, watching movies, reading books, and showing affection in public.
Dahlan Silitonga, 61, and Tjia Nyuk Hwa, 45, were flogged six and seven times respectively after being arrested for playing a long-standing game at a children’s fair that lets users exchange coins for prizes.
The pair were accused of gambling while another man, Ridwan MR got 19 lashes for being involved in the game.
“This is to create a deterrent effect, in order for people not to repeat violations of Islamic sharia law,” Banda Aceh’s mayor Aminullah Usman said.
“We purposely do it in front of the public… so it won’t happen again.”
Non-Muslim Tjia Nyuk Hwa tried to hide her face in a specially provided white cloak with head-covering hijab.
The two Christians are among just a handful of thousands of non-Muslims to be punished under Aceh’s strict religious law since it was adopted in 2001 as part of a deal with the central government to end a long-running insurgency.
About 98 percent of Aceh’s five million residents are Muslims subject to religious law.
More radical elements of the American Muslim community call for Sharia law to be instituted here. The calls have gone unmet as millions of moderate Muslims are thankful it doesn’t exist.
In the U.S. many states are moving forward with anti-sharia laws and other legislation outlawing certain aspects of it.
In July, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder made female genital mutilation a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. The laws apply both to doctors who conduct the procedure and parents who transport a child to undergo it.
“Those who commit these horrendous crimes should be held accountable for their actions, and these bills stiffen the penalties for offenders while providing additional support to victims,” Gov. Snyder said.
“This legislation is an important step toward eliminating this despicable practice in Michigan while empowering victims to find healing and justice.”
Michigan legislators continue to work on a bill banning all aspects of sharia law form being performed in the state.