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Indonesia Considers Bringing Sharia to Aceh

Indonesian lawmakers propose bill that would impose Sharia, or Islamic law, on non-Muslims, military and police in the tsunami-ravaged province of Aceh, which is also a pre-dominantly Muslim region.
( [email protected] ) May 13, 2006 09:52 PM EDT

Indonesian lawmakers propose bill that would impose Sharia, or Islamic law, on non-Muslims, military and police in the tsunami-ravaged province of Aceh, which is also a pre-dominantly Muslim region.

The current bill, now under debate in the national parliament, is expected to be passed by this summer -- but not before facing initial resistance.

Sharia took effect in Aceh last year, but only applied to Muslims. As stipulate in the Islamic law and behavior that is deemed immoral to Islam -- including drinking, gambling, and adultery – is prohibited.

“We leave it to the parliament whether to accept or reject the Acehnese people's proposal,” Alyasa Abubakar said last week, according to an Associate Press (AP) report. "I personally feel that it is not fair to apply the Islamic Sharia only to Muslims."

Abdullah Saleh, deputy chairman of the parliamentary commission handling the draft, said the change still "protects the non-Muslims' freedom to perform their religious duties."

It is feared that the draft will bring tension between religions in Indonesia. Indonesia has the largest population of Muslims in the world, though most of its citizens follow a more moderate form of their faith in the mostly secular state.

Christian-Muslim tensions remains a concern, which has claimed thousands of lives in the past years especially in the Sulawesi Province, where almost half the people there are Christian.

Though having a 97 percent Muslim, Aceh also have Hindus, Buddhists and Christians. The province was one of the single worst-hit region in Asia after a Dec. 26, 2004 tsunami took the live of almost 130,000.