BANDA ACEH, Indonesia – A group of Malaysian tourists witnessed on Tuesday a public punishment session in Indonesia’s northwestern city of Banda Aceh, the capital of Aceh province where Islamic Sharia law is in effect.
A total of 27 tourists from Malaysia were invited to watch an administrator of punishment, or “algojo” in Bahasa, deliver cane lashings to five people convicted of adultery and gambling, an epa journalist reported.
Before the caning sessions began, Banda Aceh Mayor Aminullah Usman told the Malaysian tourists, “We welcome you to come witness Sharia law here. We don’t expect any more sharia law violations in Banda Aceh for the future.”
Aminullah added that he expects all people in Banda Aceh to report any violations to the Sharia police if someone is seen doing something wrong.
The five offenders included a Christian couple – Dahlan Silitonga, 61, and Tjia Nyuk Hwa, 45 – convicted of gambling by using slot machines and winning about $35. The others were Ridwan, 67, found guilty of providing the couple with the gambling space and machines; and Muhrim Muzakkir and Cut Hasmidar, who were convicted of illicit sexual activity.
The latter pair received 22 lashes each, Ridwan got 21, and Silitonga and Hwa were administered eight and seven lashes, respectively.
As the algojo delivered the canings, the offenders winced in pain, while witnesses in the crowd shouted and mocked them.
When the punishment was over, the convicts shook hands and smiled with the algojo.
Almost 90 percent of Indonesia’s population of 261 million are Sunni Muslims, but Aceh – on the northern tip of Sumatra – is the only province where Sharia Law is in full effect.