Christians Publicly Beaten in Rare Public Sharia Law Demonstration

Indonesian civil service police members demolish a church at the Siompin village in Aceh Singkil, Aceh province.
Indonesian civil service police members demolish a church at the Siompin village in Aceh Singkil, Aceh province. (REUTERS/YT Haryono)

Two Indonesian Christians were whipped in public recently in Banda Aceh, the capital of the Sumatran province of Aceh, as a crowd took photos and jeered.

Dahlan Sili Tongga, 61, and Tjia Nyuk Hwa, 45, were being punished for breaking Sharia (Islamic law) by playing a game at a children's entertainment center, which the authorities judged to be tantamount to gambling. Tongga and Hwa were whipped six and seven times respectively on Tuesday, Feb. 27.

Aceh is the only province in Indonesia governed by Sharia, and Sharia courts impose hundreds of whippings every year. Previously, the laws only applied to Muslims, but this changed in December 2013, when they became effective for members of all religious groups.

As a local source told World Watch Monitor, life as a non-Muslim is very restricted in the province, which is led by an ex-militia from former separatist group GAM. Aceh's authorities do not allow new churches to be established, whereas in other provinces that is still possible.

Get Spirit-filled content delivered right to your inbox! Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.

"Sometimes it seems that religion is just a tool to gain and retain power, which is very common in many Muslim countries, as there is no separation between religious and political domains," said World Watch Monitor's source. "And in politics, targeting Christians is a classic maneuver to garner votes and support from Muslims."

Furthermore, Aceh's regulations stipulate a strict dress code, prohibiting all women from wearing tight clothes and requiring them to adhere to hijab (Islamic dress). Citizens in Central Aceh who fail to comply with the Muslim dress code forfeit their right to assistance from local public or private institutions, regardless of their religious affiliation.

The cases of Christians being subjected to flogging are rare because the number of Christians in Aceh is small—they make up around 1.2 per cent (about 50,000 people) of the province's population.

But although Christians are rarely whipped, World Watch Monitor's source mentioned multiple cases where Christians were harassed—for example, unmarried Christian couples being dragged to a religious office for walking together (Sharia prohibits physical proximity between unmarried people), only for it to be clarified later that they were Christians.

Non-Muslims in Aceh are allowed to choose between being punished under Sharia or civil code. Some prefer whipping over potential imprisonment.

This article originally appeared on World Watch Monitor.

Get Spirit-filled content delivered right to your inbox! Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.

Join us on our podcast each weekday for an interesting story, well told, from Charisma News. Listen at charismapodcastnetwork.com.

AMAZING CHRISTMAS DEALS: (1) Buy A Set, Get A Set FREE on all Life in the Spirit Bundles. (2) Save 30%-60% on all Tote Bag plus Book Bundles. (3) Save 50% off Select Bibles plus receive a Free Gift. Visit the Charisma Store to view all our specials. U.S Residents always get FREE Shipping!

Help Charisma stay strong for years to come as we report on life in the Spirit. Become an integral part of Charisma’s work by joining Charisma Media Partners. Click here to keep us strong!

Your Turn

Comment Guidelines
View/Add Comments
Charisma News - Informing believers with news from a Spirit-filled perspective