Jakarta – A member of the Aceh Ulema Council (MPU), which oversees the implementation of sharia in the province, was publicly caned in Banda Aceh after he was caught alone with a woman who was not his wife.
As punishment, the man, Mukhlis bin Muhammad, received 28 lashes with a cane in Banda Aceh's Taman Sari on Thursday, while the woman, Nurmawati Binti Abdurrahman, received 25 lashes, Antara news agency reported.
The Banda Aceh Sharia Court found the two guilty of adultery and of violating Aceh's Qanun Jinayat (Islamic criminal code bylaw) after the two were caught together inside a car parked at Ulee Lheu Beach on Sept. 25, the Banda Aceh mayor's assistant, Bakhtiar, said.
He confirmed that Mukhlis was a member of the MPU – an institution with the authority to, among other things, give advice on religious affairs and issue edicts related to governance, economics and social and public affairs in Aceh.
Aceh is the only region in the Muslim-majority Indonesia that implements sharia. The provincial administration has fully enforced the Qanun Jinayat since 2015.
In addition to being a punishment for adultery, public flogging is also administered in the province to people found guilty of gambling and homosexuality.
Mukhlis was reportedly the first ulema council member to be caned in public since the implementation of sharia in Aceh.
Aceh Besar deputy regent Tgk H. Husaini A. Wahab said that Mukhlis would be dismissed from his position as an MPU Aceh Besar member for reflecting badly on the institution's values and image.
"Everybody is subject to the caning punishment, including MPU members and [state] officials," Husaini said as quoted by kompas.com.
Caning in Aceh has been widely criticized, not just because it inflicts pain and is a punishment that has long been abandoned by most countries in the world, but also because it is implemented in public, potentially causing severe psychological harm to the offender.
"It is not in line with the spirit of restorative justice," Totok Yulianto, director of the Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association, said during an interview in 2017. (gis)