NEWS

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August 2, 2006

The spread of extreme Islamist government

The NYTimes had a scary article about the rise of Shariah law in Indonesia. It has become most pronounced in Aceh, the region hit hardest by the Tsunami:

Across this most religious of Indonesia’s provinces, brown uniformed policemen in black wagons enforce Shariah, or Islamic law. They haul unmarried couples into precincts and arrest people for drinking or gambling. Increasingly, many of the cases are pushed to the ultimate conclusion, public canings at mosques in front of pumped-up crowds...The caning was televised nationally, with an announcer reporting that the man, who had been arrested for drinking at a beachside stall, would receive the remainder of his punishment once he had recovered.Battered by the Asian tsunami 19 months ago, Aceh is undergoing a profound transformation that is likely to have considerable impact on the nature of Islam in Indonesia, the most populous Muslim country...Aceh, where Islam has always been more rigorously observed, is the first of Indonesia’s 33 provinces to put Shariah law onto the books. Special Shariah courts established to mete out punishments have been operating for a year.Now, some of Indonesia’s other provincial governments are looking to Aceh as a model for how they might more formalize Shariah laws already on the books. More than a score of townships across Indonesia have introduced Shariah-like laws that fall short of the precision of the religious laws here.