For the first time ever, a non-Muslim in Indonesia’s Banda Aceh province, has been subjected to punishment for breaking the region’s strict sharia law. Up to now, the laws only applied to Muslims. This week, a 60-year-old Christian woman was publicly caned in front of a large crowd for breaking the religious law prohibiting the sale of alcohol. She was reportedly whipped 30 times while people in the crowd recorded the punishment with their phones.
When the sharia laws were implemented in the region, initially, religious leaders told reporters that non-Muslims did not need to be concerned about observing. A leader told a local paper,
The fact is that Muslims in Aceh do tolerate religious freedom and we can coexist without any problems. We don’t want to raise the impression that Islamic law in Aceh infringes on the rights of non-Muslims… It doesn’t [force] sharia law on non-Muslims because they are free to observe their own faiths and beliefs.