Aceh wants bright lights, segregation for women and men at cinemas

Detik News – March 21, 2018
Food outlets at Indonesian cinema – Undated (Detik)

Datuk Haris Maulana, Aceh – Since the armed conflict broke out up until a peace agreement was reached, to this day Aceh still does not have any cinemas. People from Tanah Rencong – as Aceh is known – who want to watch the latest films have to leave Aceh or wait until they are released on movie websites.

“If the ulama (Islamic religious leaders) allow it, then it can go ahead, if the ulama prohibit it then it must be rejected. A fatwa [religious edict] by the ulama is a more powerful foundation in pursuing this plan”, said Regional Representatives Council (DPD) member from Aceh, Sudirman, in a press release received by on Wednesday March 21.

According to Haji Uma, as he is known to his friends, in 2015 he once conducted a study and social dialogue on the plan to reopen cinemas in Aceh. The result however was that most people rejected it.

Sudirman said that if it is a commercial cinema then he suggests that it must be well lighted. The problem is that if female and male members of the audience are separated but the area is dark that they cannot guarantee that there will not be violations of Islamic law except if there is an actual physical separation of the female and male seating area.

In addition to this, he also suggests that the films which are shown must be censored first by a body established by the Acehnese government.

“The films that are shown must be Islamic. Indeed if it is looked at in terms of benefits, particularly for the Acehnese film industry it will be livelier. But it cannot be allowed to ignore the enforcement of Islamic law”, added Sudirman.

Earlier, Banda Aceh Mayor Aminullah Usman said that the Aceh municipal government has discussed the issue of reopening cinemas with ulama and other related parties. During the discussion, a conclusion emerged that in relation to the licensing of cinemas a comparative study would be conducted first in Islamic countries.

“Our conclusion was that we agreed to conduct a comparative study along with our ulama to Saudi Arabia or other Islamic countries to study the regulations on music concerts and cinemas are there”, Usman told reporters in a press release on Sunday March 18. (asp/asp)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Opsi Bioskop Aceh: Film Islami dan Teater Dipisah Pria-Wanita”.]