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Aceh authorities shut down two beaches prone to sharia violations

Jakarta Post - September 16, 2016

Jakarta Several village chiefs in Seunuddon subdistrict of North Aceh in Aceh shut down Bantayan and Ulee Matang beaches in the past week, following reports of visitors violating Islamic sharia law.

Local authorities opened the two beaches last year as sharia-based tourism beaches. However, those who are not muhrim (lawful spouses or close relatives) are forbidden to get in the water together, essentially separating males and females, where only married couples can be together.

"We agreed to close the beaches because holidayers who were not muhrim got together at the beaches," Ule Rubek Timu village chief Asnawi said on Friday as reported by kompas.com.

West Ulee Rubek village chief Badlisyah Yahya echoed Asnawi's sentiment. The decision was made after a joint meeting attended by a local consultative forum and local clerics last week.

"Just recently locals caught two people acting indecently at the beach. Our people cannot monitor [visitors] all the time. So, to prevent immoral acts, we agreed to close the beaches," he said as quoted by tribunnews.com.

Meanwhile, Seunuddon Police chief Adj. Comr. M. Ridwan said police personnel would conduct patrols at the two beaches following the decision. The patrol aimed to prevent unwanted conflict between visitors and locals, who had closed access to the beaches.

Tribunnews.com also reported last week that locals prevented visitors heading to the beach. They told visitors, who were mostly youths, that the beaches were closed for tourism and asked them to return home.

Aceh, a special autonomous region, is the only province in Indonesia currently living in accordance to sharia law. Thus, Aceh's local administrations are able to impose Islamic-based bylaws.

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2016/09/16/aceh-authorities-shut-down-two-beaches-prone-to-sharia-violations.html.

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