Langsa, Indonesia. Sharia police in Aceh, the only Indonesian province to practise the Islamic law, caned a homeless “punk” couple nine times Friday after they were caught having pre-marital sex in public.
Around 100 people in the town of Langsa watched and cheered when Shariah police in green-and-black hoods caned the 21-year-old woman and her 23-year–old boyfriend, along with 11 others convicted of gambling.
“Those kids are punks. They were caught having sex by the public and were arrested by Shariah police,” Langsa prosecutor’s office head Putra Masduri said.
Masduri said the couple were often seen loitering on the streets dressed as punks, however they dressed in traditional white Islamic clothing for their caning.
Although they were arrested for pre-marital sex, their punishment comes amid a crackdown on punks in the province, in which police have raided cafes and parks to detain youths contributing to what authorities call a “social disease.”
In December, more than 60 young punk fans were detained at a concert and forced to undergo a 10–day “moral rehabilitation” camp run by police.
The youths had their hair cut or shaved, and were forced to bathe in a lake, wear conservative clothes, and pray, provoking a flurry of criticism from human rights groups and punk fans around the world.
Aceh, on the northernmost tip of Sumatra island, adopted partial Shariah law in 2001 as part of a special autonomy package aimed at quelling separatist sentiment.
Only Muslims can be charged under Shariah law, although the non-Muslim community is expected to follow some of the rules out of respect.
Nearly 90 percent of Indonesia’s 240 million people are Muslims, but the vast majority practise a moderate form of Islam.