22 December 2005

A Sharia judge in the Indonesian province of Aceh has ordered the punishment of women who are caught not wearing headscarves, reasoning that, since the “‘Koran says that if women are good, then a country is good,’” that the tsunami that devastated the region was due to the sins of Muslim women. Sharia law, instituted without popular support in 2002, has been reinvigorated since the tsunami and The Times Online reports that most often, the punishments are some form of public humiliation at the hands of the Wilayatul Hisbah, or “Control Team,” which has cut off women’s hair and then paraded them through the streets while announcing their “sins” through a megaphone. The Times also notes several incidents of villagers fighting back against the “Control Team” in defense of the persecuted women, but this resistance is unequal to the zealotry of Sharia judges, whose views are often influential among the thousands of displaced tsunami victims still living in barracks and refugee camps.