If Aceh's top ulemas (Islamic scholars) continue their crusade against the popular military shooter video game PUBG (Player Unknown's Battlegrounds) and similar games, the mere act of playing what they deem to be violent games may soon result in, ironically, violent punishment.
The Ulema Consultative Assembly (MPU), the senior clerical body in the super-conservative province, last week issued a fatwa (religious edict) declaring that PUBG and other games like it are haram (forbidden), with one of their reasons being that the games could inspire violence among children and other players.
Seemingly not content with just a fatwa, which is not legally binding, MPU says it is now trying to convince the regional government to adopt the edict as a Qanun (religious-based regional bylaw). Violations of other Qanun in Aceh, such as people engaging in homosexual relations, are often punishable by public caning.
"MPU has been advised to lobby the Aceh provincial government to turn this fatwa against online games into a justification to carry out Islamic sharia in Aceh," MPU West Aceh Regency Head Teungku Abdurrani Adian told Suara yesterday.
Adian added that MPU wants the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), the nation's highest clerical body, to publicly support their PUBG fatwa and issue a similar fatwa nationwide in order to protect the country's children.
However, MUI, who once considered issuing a fatwa against violent games in light of the horrific mosque shootings in New Zealand but never actually ended up doing so, yesterday said that, so far, they have no reason to follow MPU's lead.
Talk of possibly caning for playing online games in Aceh has, inevitably, become a subject of ridicule among Indonesia's netizens.