In the name of Islamic law, Christian booze seller caned in Indonesia
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In the name of Islamic law, Christian booze seller caned in Indonesia

THE crowd jeered as Indonesian Christian Jono Simbolon was caned for selling alcohol in the conservative Aceh province last Friday.

Simbolon was sentenced to 36 lashes last October for selling bootleg alcohol, a violation of both Indonesia’s secular and Aceh’s religious laws, the AFP reported. “This is our government’s commitment to enforcing Islamic law,” said Banda Aceh mayor Aminullah Usman.

“If there is a violation (of the law) immediately report it to the Syariah police and we will carry out a punishment like today’s caning,” he said, referring to religious authorities.

In 2014, Aceh enacted a strict Islamic criminal code that criminalises adultery, homosexuality and public displays of affection outside marriage, according to Reuters

SEE ALSO: Indonesia’s Aceh has now caned more than 500 people

The conservative province had begun implementing Islamic law after being granted special autonomy in 2001, making it the only province in the Muslim-dominated country to adhere to sharia law.

More than 500 public floggings have taken place in the province since then, human rights monitor Human Rights Watch said last October. Punishments were mainly for what it called “victimless crimes” such as non-marital kissing and sexual relations, as well as gambling.

SEE ALSO: Indonesia: Aceh publicly shames couple for gay sex

Simbolon’s public flogging is the third such punishment inflicted on a non-Muslim since Islamic law was introduced. Seven other men and two women were caned together with him after prayers last Friday for offences such as prostitution, pimping and gambling.
Aceh’s five million residents are almost all Muslims subject to “Qanun”, as the religious law is known locally. However, since 2015, non-Muslims are given the choice to be tried under Syariah law or the regular Indonesian criminal code.

A caning sentence being carried out in Banda Aceh, in September 2014. Source: Wikimedia Commons/@Voice of America

 “(Simbolon) is a Christian but he decided to bow to Qanun,” chief prosecutor Erwin Desman said, adding that the man may have chosen a flogging to avoid a lengthy criminal prosecution.
Last March, two Buddhists accused of cockfighting opted to be punished under Islamic law, the first non-Muslims to be caned in the province. According to Rappler, 57-year-old Alem bin Suhadi and 60-year-old Amel bin Akim received nine and seven lashes respectively, a mitigated sentence as they had already served over a month in detention since police nabbed them.
“We live in Aceh, so we have to obey the regulation in our region,” Alem told AFP shortly after being caned.

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