Aceh: Sharia is for the little people

In Aceh, Police Thwart Caning of Fellow Police Officer

Banda Aceh. Police in Indonesia’s westernmost city have thwarted the caning of a police officer and two other people convicted by Aceh’s morality police of gambling, highlighting the double standard in enforcing Shariah law in the province. (thanks to the ROP)

The public caning, which was scheduled for Thursday outside the city of Sabang’s main mosque, was broken up by a group of policeman led by an officer who refused to identify himself, with only his rank of police commissioner visible.

A witness, who asked not to be named, said the police took away one of the three men who was due to be caned, and who was also a police officer.

The witness said that officials from the prosecutors’ office and the Shariah police, or Wilayatul Hisbah, did nothing to stop the police, who were heard to repeatedly assert that Sharia punishment did not apply to police officers.

The officers then led their man away, and the caning was called off.

The officer to be caned had earlier been convicted along with two other men of gambling, which is a criminal offense under Aceh’s partial adoption of Shariah law, and ordered to receive six lashes.

The city police chief, Adj. Sr. Comr. Chomariasih, did not respond to calls from the Jakarta Globe for comment. Witnesses however identified the officer who led the group on Thursday as the deputy police chief, Comr. Syaiful Lubis.

The enforcement of Shariah law in Aceh has long been criticized as arbitrary, with residents and human rights activists alike complaining that public officials caught for offenses that warrant a caning are either never sentenced or never caned.

Shariah law nominally applies to all Muslims in the province, including police officers and government officials.