Indonesia bows to rule of the rod

Jane Perlez in The Scotsman:

Across Indonesia’s most religious of provinces, the sight of brown uniformed policemen has come to signify one thing. The brutal enforcement of Sharia law which is raising fears about the future of the world’s most populous Muslim country.

They haul unmarried couples into precincts and arrest people for drinking or gambling. Increasingly, many of the cases are pushed to the ultimate conclusion, public canings at mosques in front of excited crowds.

In mid-July, a 27-year-old man sentenced to 40 lashes fainted on the seventh stroke of a rattan cane from a hooded man in the yard of a mosque here in the provincial capital.

The caning was televised nationally, with a presenter saying that the man, who had been arrested for drinking at a beachside stall, would receive the remainder of his punishment once he had recovered.

Battered by the Asian tsunami 19 months ago, Aceh is undergoing a profound transformation that is likely to have considerable impact on the nature of Islam in Indonesia.

More here.