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Christian woman caned for selling alcohol

Woman being caned for violating Shariah law. Christians in Aceh, Indonesia, are now subject to Muslim punishment.

On the same day a pair of German tourists were detained by authorities in Aceh, Indonesia, for wearing bikinis at one of the conservative province’s beaches, authorities caned an elderly Christian woman for violating Shariah law.

The unnamed woman, 60, was whipped 30 times with a rattan cane in front of a crowd numbering in the hundreds, reported Agence France-Presse. She was charged with the crime of selling alcohol.

“This is the first case of a non-Muslim being punished under Islamic criminal bylaw,” Lili Suparli, a senior official at the Central Aceh prosecutor’s office told AFP.

While Indonesia is 90 percent Muslim, most areas are more moderate in practice of their faith, but Aceh was granted the right to practice Shariah law in 2001 when granted special autonomy by the central government following a long separatist insurgency.

Aceh is perhaps best known as one of the hardest-hit regions by the Dec. 26, 2004, Indian Ocean earthquake. More than 170,000 were killed in the province, with about one-half million left homeless.

A peace agreement in 2005, following the tsunami, resulted in further strengthening of Shariah law and enforcement.

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Until now, Shariah has only been enforced against Muslims for crimes including “adultery, same-sex relationships, drinking and even associating with unmarried members of the opposite sex,” but new bylaws passed last year extended Shariah to non-Muslims under certain circumstances.

Islamic leaders dismissed fears the bylaws would be a problem for those of other religions.

“The fact is that Muslims in Aceh do tolerate religious freedom and we can coexist without any problems,” Teungku Faisal Ali, head of the provincial chapter of the Muslim organization Nahdlatul Ulama, told BenarNews at the time. “We don’t want to raise the impression that Islamic law in Aceh infringes on the rights of non-Muslims … It doesn’t [force] Shariah law on non-Muslims because they are free to observe their own faiths and beliefs.”

On the same day the Christian woman was caned, a Muslim couple accused of adultery was given 100 lashes.