A 60-year-old Christian woman in the province of Aceh, Indonesia, was whipped 30 times with a rattan cane for breaking sharia law. The punishment – which occurred on Tuesday 12 April and was carried out before a crowd of hundreds – was imposed because the woman had been convicted by the Indonesian authorities of selling alcohol.
In 2005, in a bid to end separatist violence, a deal was agreed for Aceh to incorporate sharia law into its legal system, becoming the only province in the Muslim-majority country to do so. This initially applied only to Muslims, but the introduction of a new bylaw late last year means that it now also applies to non-Muslims under certain circumstances. Until now it had not been clear just how far this would go. In classical Islam, sharia was in general not supposed to be applied to non-Muslims.
Following the public caning of the woman, an official at the Central Aceh’s prosecutor’s office confirmed, “This is the first case of a non-Muslim being punished under Islamic criminal bylaw.”
Aceh is the most Islamic part of Indonesia. In October 2015, a total of twelve churches in Aceh were destroyed by Indonesian authorities, following pressure from Islamists. Indonesian president, Joko Widodo, has expressed his concern for the plight of Christians and other religious minorities.
Drinking alcohol is what is termed a hudud crime (i.e. one of six crimes where the Quran sets out a specific punishment), with any Muslim found guilty given 80 lashes.
The punishment prescribed in sharia for a Muslim selling alcohol depends on the particular school of Islamic law.
Classical Islam forbids non-Muslims from openly selling wine (i.e. alcohol).