Banda Aceh religious police on alert for ‘illegal’ Valentine’s Day celebrations

CNN Indonesia – February 12, 2020
Wilayatul Hisbah and Satpol PP on patrol in Banda Aceh – Undated (Antara)

Banda Aceh – Banda Aceh Mayor Aminullah Usman has banned residents from celebrating Valentine’s Day or the day of love on February 14.

Because of this, Usman has instructed Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) officials and the Wilayatul Hisbah (WH, Islamic police) to conduct socialisation about the ban at cafes and hotels. This will be done to prevent the commemoration of Valentine’s Day in the Achenese provincial capital.

The ban was included in an official letter signed on February 10. “We asked the younger generation and Banda Aceh residents not celebrate Valentine’s Day in any form whatsoever. Because it conflicts with Syariat Islam [Islamic law]”, said Usman when sought for confirmation on Tuesday February 11.

According to Usman celebrating Valentine’s Day conflicts with the traditions and culture of Acehnese society. The Satpol PP and WH, he said, would be monitoring the situation and hold intensive patrols on the day.

Satpol PP and Banda Aceh WH head Hidayat said that they have already disseminated the ban on celebrating Valentine’s Day to hotels, cafes and tourist spots.

The ban, he said, is similar in form to the ban on celebrating New Year. The ban has also been socialised since early February and has been followed up by visits to hotel and cafe owners in Banda Aceh.

In the lead up to Valentine’s Day, they will also hold patrols around Banda Aceh city, particularly at locations where violations of Islamic law could potentially happen.

“There’ll be (supervision). We will stick to the routine, we’ll have patrols particularly at busy locations and also at tourist spots”, he said.

West Aceh ban

Earlier, the West Aceh regency government also issued a ban on celebrating Valentine’s Day.

“If communities find out about a Valentine’s Day celebration, I appeal to them to report it to Satpol PP and WH officials, so that it can be acted on in accordance with Islamic law in Aceh”, said West Aceh regent Ramli MS in Meulaboh as quoted by the state-news agency Antara.

In addition to this, he said that the ban must be enforced because Valentine’s Day mostly causes harm to the lives of the younger generation in Aceh.

He also appealed to all traders or business operators in the area not to sell paraphernalia which is not in accordance with Islamic law regulations which are in force in Aceh and warned traders who violate this that they will be subject to severe sanctions.

“For [members] of the Muslim community who celebrate Valentine’s Day, the Wilayatul Hisbah will crack down on perpetrators in accordance with Syariat Islam which is in force in Aceh, perpetrators could also be punished by being flogged”, said Meulaboh.

Last week a ban on Valentine’s Day was also applied by the Greater Aceh regency government. Greater Aceh Regent Mawardi Ali applied the ban in letter which was circulated to local governments in the regency as well as schools.

According to Ali, Valentine’s Day conflicts with Aceh qanun (bylaw) Number 11/2002 on the Implementation of Islamic Law in Islamic Teachings, Worship and Obligations. (dra/kid)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Valentine, Polisi Syariat Banda Aceh Akan Awasi Tempat Wisata”.]