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Aceh to ban sales of tight clothing

Deutsche Presse Agentur - June 7, 2012

Ahmad Pathoni, Banda Aceh – Shops in Indonesia's Aceh province, where Islamic law is in force, will soon be banned from selling tight-fitting clothes, an official said on Thursday.

The announcement was made after religious police in the provincial capital, Banda Aceh, stopped and reprimanded more than 50 women and three men for violating the Islamic dress code, including wearing tight clothing and shorts.

Samsuddin, the head of enforcement at the agency overseeing compliance with Islamic law in Aceh, said his office would issue a circular banning shops from selling body-hugging fashion items.

"We will soon send letters to shop owners," Samsuddin said. "The newly elected governor very much supports the enforcement of Islamic law." Zaini Abdullah is due to be sworn in as Aceh's new governor on June 26 after winning an election in April.

Shariah police in Aceh regularly carry out patrols to enforce the rule of Islamic modesty and a ban on unseemly contact between unmarried couples.

Officers recorded the personal details of those behaving in an unseemly manner, lectured them, and told them they could be detained or lashed if they were caught again.

Samsuddin said his officers had netted 300 women who violated the Islamic dress code in the past two months. Munway, one of the three men stopped for wearing shorts in Thursday's operation, pleaded for leniency.

"I'm a construction worker and I'm laying bricks," he told a woman officer who asked him to show his identity card. "I'm outside because I'm going to buy some paint." Munawar said he agreed with Islamic law but men should not be arrested for wearing shorts.

Under Aceh's Islamic law, the sale of alcohol is banned across the province and gamblers are punished by caning.

The law was imposed in 2001 as part of special autonomy granted by the central government to pacify a clamor for independence in the province on the northern tip of Sumatra.

The separatist conflict killed an estimated 15,000 people, mostly civilians, before it ended with the signing of a peace pact between the government and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) in 2005.