Banda Aceh. The morality police in Aceh are on the prowl once again as the Islamic holy month of Ramadan approaches, increasing the frequency of their raids against… crimes of fashion.
The province’s shariah police, known as Wilayatul Hisbah, has roped in the police and the military to help in the raids, to be held “day and night to minimize shariah violations” — but which are targeted almost entirely at women wearing clothes deemed too figure-hugging.
“The raids were against motorcyclists, in order to uphold Islamic shariah,” Samsudin, the WH’s head of enforcement, told the Jakarta Globe on Thursday.
He added that the first series of raids on Wednesday netted 99 people — 94 of them women “wearing tight outfits,” and five men wearing “pants that expose the knees.”
Both are considered beyond fashion faux pas, actually meriting a place in local statutes and punishable by imprisonment.
Samsudin said none of those stopped on Wednesday were arrested. Instead, their names were taken down, and they were warned that if they were caught again they could face up to 20 days in jail.
The WH officer said raids would be held regularly from midnight to dawn throughout Banda Aceh, in places “suspected to be facilitating immoral deeds — like cafes.”
“We usually raid cafes where we find men and women who are not muhrim” — related by blood or marriage — “alone together,” he said. “We give them advice and if they fight back, we will take them to the office for further processing.”
Samsudin said that as the raids intensified, his office had found fewer and fewer shariah violators. He said he hoped to have Banda Aceh free of such violators for the entirety of Ramadan, which runs for a month from June 28, so that Muslims could observe the holy month in peace.
During Ramadan itself, when Muslims abstain from food, drink and sex during the daylight hours, the WH will carry out raids against those selling food during the day, Samsudin said.
“We will charge them and they can be punished by caning,” he said.