Western officials including Colin Powell explained that the tsunami relief was supposed to win Muslim hearts and minds. And it’s doing so — one lashing at a time. “Tsunami survivors given the lash,” by Michael Sheridan and Dewi Loveard in the TimesOnline, with thanks to all who sent this in:
WHEN people around the world sent millions of pounds to help the stricken Indonesian province of Aceh after the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004, few could have imagined that their money would end up subsidising the lashing of women in public.
But militant Islamists have since imposed sharia law in Aceh and have cornered Indonesian government funds to organise a moral vigilante force that harasses women and stages frequent displays of humiliation and state-sanctioned violence.
International aid workers and Indonesian women’s organisations are now expressing dismay that the flow of foreign cash for reconstruction has allowed the government to spend scarce money on a new bureaucracy and religious police to enforce puritan laws, such as the compulsory wearing of headscarves.
Some say there are more “sharia police” than regular police on the local government payroll and that many of them are aggressive young men.
“Who are these sharia police?” demanded Nurjannah Ismail, a lecturer at Aceh’s Ar-Raniri University. “They are men who, most of the time, are trying to send the message that their position is higher than women.”
In one town, Lhokseumawe, the authorities are even planning to impose a curfew on women “” a move that social workers warn will force tsunami widows to quit night-time jobs as food sellers or waitresses and could drive them into prostitution.
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