BANDA ACEH (Indonesia) • An elderly Christian woman has been caned in a conservative Indonesian province for selling alcohol, the first time a non-Muslim has been punished there under strict religious laws.
The 60-year-old was whipped nearly 30 times with a rattan cane before a crowd of hundreds in Aceh province on Tuesday, an official said, along with a couple who were subjected to 100 lashes for adultery.
Aceh is the only province in the predominantly Muslim country that applies syariah law. Public canings for breaches of Islamic code happen on a regular basis and often attract huge crowds.
Those caught engaging in adultery, same-sex relationships, drinking or associating with unmarried members of the opposite sex can end up facing the cane.
Though the law once applied to only Muslims, a by-law that took effect late last year allowed syariah regulations to be applied to non-Muslims in certain situations, said Mr Lili Suparli, a senior official at the Central Aceh prosecutor's office.
Aceh began implementing syariah law after being granted special autonomy in 2001, an effort by the central government in Jakarta to quell a long-running separatist insurgency.
Islamic laws have been strengthened since a peace deal was struck with Jakarta in 2005.
More than 90 per cent of Indonesians describe themselves as Muslim, with the vast majority practising a moderate form of the faith.