Seen as discriminatory, public flogging fails to attract spectators

Aceh Kita – September 10, 2005
Convicted gamblers being publically flogged in Aceh (Merdeka)
Convicted gamblers being publically flogged in Aceh (Merdeka)

AK-42, Bireuen – The public flogging of nine convicted gamblers, which took place on the grounds of the Bireuen Grand Mosque on Friday September 9, failed to attract spectators. The hundreds of community members left the mosque’s grounds immediately after concluding Friday prayers even though the Islamic religious court official was ready and waiting on the raised platform to execute the flogging.

The people of Bireuen believe that public floggings are only a means for the authorities to seek popular support and fail to implement the enforcement of Islamic law correctly. Even the Islamic religious court is seen as only prepared to punish the small-fish who violate Islamic law, while the big-fish who commit crimes are except from punishment.

“They are discriminative, public floggings are only valid for petty traders. While hundreds of violators of Islamic law from the circles of ‘respected people’ are untouched by the law”, said Abdul Hadi (42), a resident of Juang City following Friday prayers.

A similar view was expressed by Mahdi Norsa (38), a resident of Matang Glumpang Dua. He believes that it is still unclear if those who made and implemented Bylaw (Perda) Number 13 which stipulates that gamblers be flogged are any better then those who have been punished.

“If [they want] Islamic law to be properly enforced, or if we want to be honest, actually [the ones] who it is most appropriate to flog are at the moment the people that made the bylaw. Why do they interpret Islamic law only partially, when in fact God invited HIS servants to enter into Islam correctly”, he continued.

The who received the flogging however confessed their genuine acceptance of the punishment handed down against them. They hope that a similar thing will be valid for other violators of the law.

Prior to this, on June 24 as many as 26 people that violated Islamic law in Bireuen were also flogged. Bireuen represents the first regency to enact public floggings after Islamic law came into force in Aceh. [dzie]

[Abridged translation by James Balowski. Second and third last paragraphs on the names and details of those who were or were not sentenced to be flogged omitted.]