Shariah Law Comes into Effect in Aceh Province, Indonesia

Church leaders in Indonesia’s Aceh province are calling for the new Islamic criminal code, that took effect on 23rd October, to respect non-Muslims living in the predominantly Muslim region.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe local Shariah-based bylaw, qanun hukum jinayat, stipulates harsh punishments, including caning, for a range of offences, including same-sex relations, drinking alcohol, gambling, adultery, sexual harassment and rape.

Christian leaders in Aceh are worried about how the bylaw will be implemented.

“Shariah law is only for Muslims. For non-Muslims, I don’t think they are obliged to follow the legislation,” Father Hermanus Sahar from the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Banda Aceh, the provincial capital, told

Authorities say non-Muslim offenders caught violating the law while with a Muslim person will be given the option of being tried in a Shariah court, or in regular court using the national criminal code.

The Rev. Domidoyo Ratupenu, from the Protestant Church in Western Indonesia, based in Banda Aceh, called the new bylaw unfair, stating that: “There will be injustice if a law is implemented only based on a certain party’s view. The new bylaw is an unfair action by the local government.”

Meanwhile, London-based Amnesty International and the Institute for Criminal Justice Reform have called for an immediate review or repeal of provisions violating human rights. They are especially concerned that the Aceh Islamic criminal code has expanded the range of offences for which caning would be imposed.

However, the head of Aceh’s provincial Shariah agency said the new bylaw aimed to prevent Muslims from violating Shariah law and to create justice and welfare for all Acehnese people.

“The nature of the law isn’t to punish people,” he told

  • Pray for Christians in Aceh province, as they are facing continued and growing pressure against their freedom to worship or to openly acknowledge their faith.
  • Pray for the local government in Ace, as it seeks to implement Shariah law in the region. Pray that they will be fair and just to all ethnic and religious groups represented in the province.
  • Pray for Indonesia, as it grapples with pressure from the Islamic fundamentalists but also has a constitutional requirement to allow freedom of religion.
  • Pray that Jesus will reveal Himself to many Muslims in Indonesia, and for the spread of the Gospel through this nation.

Job 11 vs 18: “And you will have confidence, because there is hope; you will be protected] and take your rest in safety.



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