New Shariah Rules Only for Local Muslims, Says West Java City

By webadmin on 07:03 pm Jun 08, 2012
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Yuli Krisna

Bandung. The top legislator in Tasikmalaya said on Wednesday that the headscarf requirement stipulated in the soon-to-be-enforced shariah-inspired bylaws in the West Java city would only affect Muslims.

City Council Speaker Otong Koswara acknowledged that there had been a rash of criticism regarding the bylaws, but said they were only intended to reinforce faith in the lives of the city’s Muslims.

“The Muslims [in Tasikmalaya] are positive about it because it has to do with their beliefs. But that is for Muslims only. The non-Muslims will not be affected,” Otong said. “But for other bylaws — no alcohol or gambling — those will be enacted for people of all religions.”

The city said it would assign officers from the Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) to enforce the bylaws. Satpol PP will have a similar scope of responsibilities to the Shariah police in Aceh, which has also introduced shariah-inspired laws.

“We are not trying to impose shariah or become a Muslim state,” Otong said. “This is just reinforcing people’s desire to follow their beliefs. For people who don’t abide by some of the laws, like the headscarf requirement, we will use persuasion and educate them. But we won’t use persuasion for drugs and other offenses. There will be penalties for those according to prevailing laws and regulations.”

The bylaws would prohibit women from going outside without headscarves, and would bar men and women who were not married from being alone together. Officials have previously passed bylaws penalizing adultery, homosexuality, alcohol use, witchcraft, pornography, blasphemy and abortion.

Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) legislator Eva Kusuma Sundari said the bylaws constituted “treason.”

“The plan not only shows indications of treason and insubordination toward the Constitution but also violates the Law on Regional Autonomy, which stipulates that legal, security and religious affairs are not within the jurisdiction of regional authorities,” she said on Tuesday.

The local branch of the Indonesian council of Ulema criticized the bylaws, saying they must not flout national laws.