JP: Sharia Bylaws =?windows-1252?Q?=91Time_Bomb=92?=
Apr 20, 2012 02:49 PDT
The Jakarta Post
Friday, April 20, 2012
Sharia Bylaws ‘Time Bomb’
Bambang Muryanto, The Jakarta Post, Yogyakarta
Sharia bylaws drafted and implemented by several local administrations
in the country could be a time bomb with the potential to trigger
social conflicts in mixed communities, according to scholars.
Syamsul Anwar, a lecturer at the Yogyakarta-based Kalijaga State
Islamic University (UIN), called on local administrations to pay
attention to content as well as process in drafting their bylaws in
order to avoid creating social conflict.
“They should be selective in terms of materials to be drafted as
regulations. They must concentrate only on the principle,” Syamsul
said in Yogyakarta on Thursday.
Notable lawyer Todung Mulya Lubis suggested some groups had vested
interests in initiating the adoption of sharia bylaws.
“This could be a time bomb for us all,” he said when addressing an
international seminar in Yogyakarta on Wednesday. The seminar at the
UIN discussed sharia, the state and globalization.
Only two years after regional autonomy was launched in 1999, regencies
and municipalities in West Sumatra, Banten, West Java and South
Sulawesi issued several sharia-based bylaws in those predominantly
Many more followed suit, and by early 2010 more than 150 bylaws,
regulations and circulars were found to be problematic and
discriminative according to the national women’s rights body.
Todung suspected a hidden agenda given the drafting processes, which
seemed to curtail public participation and lack academic analysis.
He noted as many as 78 sharia bylaws had been issued in 52
regencies/municipalities in the country.
With the potential to trigger social conflicts, sharia could not be
justified in a pluralist Indonesia, Todung said.
Indonesia has never been an Islamic state, he pointed out.
“Jurisdiction-wise, religious affairs should be the central
government’s domain, not a local issue,” he said, adding that bylaws
that contravened major legislation or the Constitution could taint
Indonesia’s status as a country where the rule of law was upheld.
“This is the most sensitive issue in Indonesia,” he said.
He expressed hopes that the issue would be addressed more seriously in
the future, considering that Indonesia was home to people of many
The Wahid Institute, in its survey on sharia-inspired bylaws, has
discovered that local rules frequently violated the law on regional
However, a legal expert in Aceh dismissed the “time bomb” suggestions.
“We must look at where the sharia bylaws are implemented. In Aceh,
there is no opposition to the bylaws,” Safuddin Bantasyam, a law
lecturer at Syiah Kuala University, said in Banda Aceh.
Aceh, with special autonomy under the 1999 Aceh Administration Law,
has already issued 54 of 59 bylaws or qanun slated to be issued by
Several bylaws regulate an “Islamic” lifestyle and an Islamic court.
The province has also set up a special police force to enforce sharia.
Violators of the Islamic bylaws may face penalties such as caning. The
most controversial bylaw has been one on the Criminal Code, which
includes the penalty of being stoned to death for people found guilty
Safuddin said other religions were welcome in Aceh despite the
implementation of sharia because the laws were applicable only to
“That might be different if implemented in regions with more a diverse
community,” he said.
Syamsul pointed out the need to consider social demography in
implementing sharia bylaws. “The implementation of sharia should take
into consideration the social conditions. Sharia is not necessarily
identical to an Islamic state,” he said.
Other speakers in the seminar included Farish Ahmad Noor of Nanyang
University, Singapore, Wael B. Hallaq of Columbia University, US and
Raihanah Abdullah of the University of Malaya, Malaysia.
— Hotli Simanjuntak contributed reporting from Banda Aceh
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