Hijab Suggestion for Non-Muslims in Aceh Draws Criticism

A Shariah policewoman lectures woman who were arrested for wearing tight jeans during a Sharia police raid in Banda Aceh on Feb. 5, 2014. (EPA Photo/Hotli Simanjuntak)

A Shariah policewoman lectures woman who were arrested for wearing tight jeans during a Sharia police raid in Banda Aceh on Feb. 5, 2014. (EPA Photo/Hotli Simanjuntak)

Jakarta. Human rights activists criticized the Aceh Shariah police on Friday for an official suggestion that non-Muslim women should wear the hijab in the semi-autonomous western region.

Banda Aceh Sharia Police on Wednesday detained 62 men and women for wearing improper clothes, releasing them the same day. Two were non-Muslims.

Samsuddin, the head of Aceh’s Sharia Police Enforcement Office, said they should have been wearing the hijab as a sign of respect in the only province in Indonesia to enforce Shariah law

“Non-Muslims are also required to wear hijab, to respect Muslims in Aceh,” he said, as quoted by news portal Merdeka.com.

Under a 2002 provincial Sharia bylaw, every Aceh resident is required to wear Islamic attire and women are required to wear the hijab and to avoid form-fitting attire. But the Shariah Police, before this week, only enforced the law for Muslims.

Samsuddin said those who violated the suggestion would be “educated” and sent on their way, but repeat offenders would be brought to an Aceh Shariah police office where parents or relatives would be required to pick them up.

Deputy Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission Imdadun said that the enforcement of the regulation for non-Muslims was a human rights violation and called on the Aceh government to put a stop to it.

“I call for the government not to continue such a policy,” he said. “It will be a problem if other regions follow such an example. For instance, what if a majority Christian region such as Papua forces its residents, whether they’re Christian or not, to wear crucifixes. This kind of policy is not appropriate to be implemented in Indonesia.”

He said that Aceh’s special autonomous status should have limitations. “They still need to obey the constitution and should not violate human rights,” he said.

“Government officers did it just to keep the province as part of Indonesia,” Bonar said. “The Aceh government, which fails to bring welfare to its people, plays the issue of Islamic Sharia to gain public support.” The Jakarta Globe

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