Banda Aceh, 10 June (AKI) – A patrol car belonging to the Sharia police in the Indonesian province of Banda Aceh has been attacked that has raised concern about a backlash against Islamic law.

The car was firebombed by at least four people using Molotov cocktails outside the Sharia police headquarters in a small village in Banda Aceh on Monday. It was the first time police have been the target of such an attack.

“The attack is a sign of resistance by the population against Sharia laws, that are unfair in Aceh,” said Fuad Mardhatillah, religion and philosophy professor at the Islamic State Institute Ar-Raniry in an interview with Adnkronos International (AKI) on Tuesday.

Aside from fighting the distribution of liquor, the Sharia police officers frequently apprehend girls who wear ‘inappropriate’ clothes and couples found together in public and deserted places.

“Unless there are changes in how Sharia law is applied, it is possible that in the future we will see other similar attacks,” Mardhatillah told AKI.

Meanwhile, the head of the Sharia police, Natsir Ilyas, said he did not know who perpetrated the attacks, but he expressed confidence it was related to the rising number of sellers of alcoholic drinks as well as drugs in the city.

“Possibly they do not agree with the implementation of Sharia law in Aceh. It can be anybody,” said the head of the Sharia police Natsir Ilyas.

Ilyas said, his subordinates patrol in the city to monitor activities deemed to violate Islamic Sharia law regulations.

The patrols are usually conducted in areas considered to be prone to Sharia regulation violations, like cafes and other places where youths gather, he said.

Ilyas told The Jakarta Post that the Sharia police handled 1,245 violations between January and May this year.

Out of the total cases, only four dealt with illegal distribution of liquor and 491 with sexual promiscuity, he said.

With regard to the implementation of the caning punishment, the Sharia affairs office of Banda Aceh has punished 22 people in this manner from 2005 to 2007.

Most of them were found guilty of involvement in gambling and other infractions, including liquor consumption and sexual promiscuity.

Muslim-devout Aceh is the only province in Indonesia allowed to apply Sharia law, since it was granted special status in 1999 under the presidency of Abdurrahman Wahid.

Sharia, or Islamic law, is a legal framework based on Islamic principles of jurisprudence and deals with several aspects of day-to-day life, including politics, economics and social issues among other things.

 

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