Indonesia flogs 10 people for violating sharia law; two gays get 83 lashes each before jeering crowd

Apologists like Reza Aslan always point to Indonesia as an “enlightened” Muslim country, and it is less repressive in some ways than places like Saudi Arabia. Still, the country has a blasphemy law, which Wikipedia characterizes like this:

Indonesia prohibits blasphemy by its Criminal Code. The Code’s Article 156(a) targets those who deliberately, in public, express feelings of hostility, hatred, or contempt against religions with the purpose of preventing others from adhering to any religion, and targets those who disgrace a religion. The penalty for violating Article 156(a) is a maximum of five years imprisonment.

That article gives lots of examples of punishment for blasphemy; here’s one:

On 28 June 2006, the Polewali, South Sulawesi state court sentenced Sumardi Tappaya, a Muslim and a high school religious teacher, to six months in prison for heresy after a relative accused him of whistling during prayers. The local MUI declared the whistling deviant.

As for homosexuality, it’s legal in most of the country but not in the province of Aceh, which has officially adopted sharia law (the preferred law of Linda Sarsour). From the Times of London:

Two gay men were among ten people flogged in the Indonesian province of Aceh yesterday in an atmosphere of growing religious intolerance.

A crowd of 1,500 people jeered as Muhammad Taufik, 23, and Muhammad Habibi, 20, were each given 83 lashes of the cane in front of a mosque in the provincial capital, Banda Aceh.

Eight others were also punished under the sharia codes that apply in Aceh. Among them was a heterosexual couple; each received 27 lashes for extramarital relations.

The punishment was administered by hooded men wielding 3ft rattan sticks who took it in turns to deliver blows to the back of those convicted in shariah courts. The two men convicted of homosexuality grimaced but did not cry out.

They were tried and convicted last week after a group of vigilantes broke into their rented room and attacked them in an incident filmed and posted on the internet. Their assailants were not charged.

Those were only two of ten people publicly flogged; the others included that heterosexual couple.  All told, 336 people were caned in Aceh in 2016 for violations of “morality”. The Times adds that non-sharia regions also have some morality policing:

Homosexuality is not illegal elsewhere in the country but in Jakarta this week 141 men at an alleged gay sex party were arrested under loose laws against “pornography”.

This month the governor of Jakarta was sentenced to two years in prison for blasphemy, an unexpected verdict that represents a huge victory for conservative Islam. Basuki Tjahja Purnama, an ethnic Chinese Christian best known by his nickname Ahok, announced yesterday that he was dropping his appeal against the sentence, which stemmed from a speech he gave last year.

Finally, the New York Times reported that extremist Islam seems to be spreading in Indonesia, as it is in Turkey (my emphasis):

Aceh is the only province in Indonesia that has formally adopted Shariah, and homosexuality is legal in most of Indonesia.

But a nationwide campaign by conservative civil society groups against homosexuality culminated in a major case now before the country’s Constitutional Court, which will decide whether sex outside marriage should be banned throughout Indonesia. A ban on sex outside marriage would effectively ban homosexual sex, as gay marriage is illegal in Indonesia.

It is not known when the Constitutional Court will issue a ruling, though there have already been numerous hearings for the case, including one at which a witness suggested that an increased focus on gay rights was the result of a Jewish conspiracy.

. . . Until this year, the national government had the right to unilaterally cancel discriminatory local legislation, but the Constitutional Court took away that power this year, arguing that it was excessive.

Activists say the court decision will make it much more difficult for the national government to repeal discriminatory local laws like ones in Aceh.

The Indonesian government granted Aceh a special right to impose a legal code based on the Quran in 2001, as part of a long-term effort to make peace with the leaders of an Islamic insurgency there.

Does anybody really think that the demonization of gay and transgender people in Muslim countries (the only countries applying the death penalty to homosexuality) has nothing to do with Islam? Is that just a coincidence? Or, if you’re going to maintain that this isn’t religion, but simply cultural opprobrium, then at least you can’t lay it at the door of the West. It’s shameful that some gays. transgender people, and feminists continue to support Islam and those Muslims who follow or advocate sharia law.

Here are some photos of the gay couple. This one’s from the NYT, which adds:

News reports said that vigilantes had caught the two men naked in bed, and that the two had pleaded not to be reported to the Shariah police. The two were then beaten, an attack recorded on video, and were later taken to a local police station.

“So you don’t like women? Not interested in them anymore?” Marzuki Ali, chief investigator for the Shariah police, asked the men, ages 20 and 23, shortly after they were taken to the police station in March. Cameras recorded his comments.

From the NYT: Two men accused of having sex with each other faced trial in a Shariah courtroom in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, on Wednesday. They were each sentenced to 85 lashings. Credit Hotli Simanjuntak/European Pressphoto Agency

And from the British Times:

From the Times: A crowd of people watched and jeered as the two men were flogged ULET IFANSASTI/GETTY IMAGES

Now some of you may say, “well, maybe it didn’t hurt much, and they weren’t killed“. But imagine the shame attached to the public flogging, and the lifelong ostracism that these two men will face! They’ll surely have to leave Aceh.

It is reprehensible to outlaw sexual behavior between consenting adults: it hurts nobody except the “feelings” of those adhering to a medieval code of conduct. But that’s religion, Jake.

What do you say now. Dr. Aslan?


  1. GBJames
    Posted May 24, 2017 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    I’m confused. Reza Aslan told us that Indonesia was a very civilized place.

    • Kevin
      Posted May 24, 2017 at 10:55 am | Permalink

      Reza is confused about a great number of things. Just a side note: eating brain does not make one smarter, just sicker on many levels.

      • GBJames
        Posted May 24, 2017 at 11:03 am | Permalink


      • Charles Ponsford
        Posted May 26, 2017 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

        He is not confused; he is deliberately misinforming to muddy the waters

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted May 24, 2017 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

      He told us women were “absolutely” equal to men.

      Tell that to the women who have to undergo virginity tests to become police officers.

      • somer
        Posted May 24, 2017 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

        Yes and thats in Jakarta – not sharia Aceh. though to be fair outside Aceh there is still a lot of mixing of Islam with local pre islamic Adat law and Javanese customs depending on the area. However the modern spread of scriptural literalism may in time push that away, although the government strongly encourages secular school curriculum, unlike say Pakistan where the state gives no funding to normal secular schooling. Most of the corrupt elite and military that supported Suharto are very much around and allied with islamists whenever it suits. Even Suharto in his latter years started favouring Islamists. Economic hard times have encouraged the conservatism – and essential staples always subsidised under Suharto are no longer since the Asian economic crash of 1996

  2. Randy schenck
    Posted May 24, 2017 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    Nothing like a little public flogging to start the day. If Indonesia ever expects to join the civilized world they too will need to overhaul Islam. They act like Pakistan more all the time.

    • rickflick
      Posted May 24, 2017 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

      There are 1.8 billion people in the uncivilized(Islamic) world. That’s a lot of overhauling. This could take a while. We’d better get started.

  3. John Egloff
    Posted May 24, 2017 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    It’s also reprehensible that their religion and/or culture has created a mindset where people actually ENJOY seeing another human being suffer, such that they show up in droves to watch.

    • Filippo
      Posted May 24, 2017 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

      Am reminded of postcards of lynchings by whites the U.S. south who no doubt fancied themselves good Christians.

    • Mark R.
      Posted May 24, 2017 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

      Humans enjoy watching violence. The more local and real the better…I guess it comes down to “better them than me”. Relishing in it is mob rules I suspect. The victim is considered “less” or “a criminal”. Either way, the Romans didn’t invent it, and all Abrahamic/monotheistic religions since haven’t softened the rhetoric.

      Would modern Republicans be against money-making endeavors that would involve murder? Legal snuff tapes? I’m reminded of King’s “The Running Man”. Where will this country of mine go?

      • darrelle
        Posted May 25, 2017 at 7:39 am | Permalink

        Not all humans do. As with most things there is a range of responses. It is common for there to be people fainting or getting sick at public punishments and executions.

  4. Posted May 24, 2017 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    god, there is no hope.

  5. darrelle
    Posted May 24, 2017 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    I’ve always thought that the most damaging consequence of this type of penal system is the behavior and mindset it instills and perpetuates in the average person within the society. The picture explains it better than I could, a jeering crowd at a public lashing. I’m pretty sure that’s not the kind of society most would prefer to live in.

    Anyone who thinks being lashed isn’t that big of a deal should look into it a bit more.

    • Wunold
      Posted May 24, 2017 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

      Anyone who thinks being lashed isn’t that big of a deal should look into it a bit more.

      Or try being lashed some time …

    • somer
      Posted May 24, 2017 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

      A jealous, vengeful god. And Allah the merciful who deliberately creates much of humanity including those born to Muslims – to be destined for pit of eternal torture (Predestination is part of orthodox Islamic belief)

    • rickflick
      Posted May 24, 2017 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

      Compare this image of a jeering crowd to the jeering crowds that watched public hangings and torture in Europe during feudal times and later. There was a gradual climbing out of the pit of indifference to suffering that took place over generations. Islam seems to be providing a moral regression to a crueler time in human history.

  6. Posted May 24, 2017 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    This is what always happens when any religion either gains control of government or gets a pass on bad behaviour because, “hey, freedom if religion”.

    Christians did exactly this same thing before they were stopped by the laws of the land. If Christians were to gain enough power and influence in U.S.government, you could expect it to begin again. Religions do not reform. They behave well only because they’re forced to obey secular laws.

    • Randy schenck
      Posted May 24, 2017 at 10:44 am | Permalink

      Why we need FFRF more than ever.

  7. Posted May 24, 2017 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Interesting that the punishers doing the lashing are masked and unidentifiable (as representatives of Allah, the religion, sharia law or the community). It must be a facet of punishment that the punishees are barefaced and recognizable. It seems appropriate that those meting out punishment wear brown robes.

    • Wunold
      Posted May 24, 2017 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

      It reminds me of the medieval executioners who also were masked and, despite being seen as bearing an important function in society, usually were shunned by their peers and i.e. had their own table at the local inn.

      I wonder what social status the lashing men (I doubt that there are any women doing this) have in Indonesia.

      A related find from my quick research for this post: Death penalty in Indonesia: an executioner’s story

      • darrelle
        Posted May 25, 2017 at 8:04 am | Permalink

        That story should be read far and wide. It shows very well one of my arguments against the death penalty. Even supposing that a criminal is so bad that they deserve to be killed, or are so dangerous to the rest of society that they need to be removed from it forever, why accept the damage to the people that have to perform the execution? Why do something that allows the criminal to be a part of damaging even more lives? It just isn’t worth it.

  8. David Duncan
    Posted May 24, 2017 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    “Indonesia prohibits blasphemy by its Criminal Code. The Code’s Article 156(a) targets those who deliberately, in public, express feelings of hostility, hatred, or contempt against religions with the purpose of preventing others from adhering to any religion, and targets those who disgrace a religion.”

    I wonder if someone complained about Moslems blaspheming Christianity (they deny the divinity of Christ) the offenders could be flogged.

    Yeah right!

  9. Posted May 24, 2017 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    One lash is horrendous, especially for something that shouldn’t even be a crime. But *83*??

    • darrelle
      Posted May 24, 2017 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

      Yeah. There are several different tools and styles associated with the “art” of lashing, some more injurious than others. With most types 83 at one time is more than enough to cause a horrible death. Usually when that many are “awarded” the lashes are meted out in smaller amounts over a number of days or even weeks. I don’t know what the case is here.

  10. BJ
    Posted May 24, 2017 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    Reza Aslan: “See how civilized and peaceful Indonesia is? They’re a model Muslim country. They only flog their gays in public until they’re permanently crippled, not kill them!”

  11. Tom
    Posted May 24, 2017 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    The billions of Saudi riyals have been well spent in Indonesia.
    When King Salman visits it will feel just like home.

    • Posted May 26, 2017 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

      Yes. 😦

    • rickflick
      Posted May 26, 2017 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

      Delusion is like blood leaking from a corps. It spreads.

  12. Posted May 24, 2017 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.

  13. Posted May 24, 2017 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

    Considering the huge amounts of money and aid given to Aceh after the 2004 tsunami, you might think that they would respond to diplomatic efforts from aid-giving countries… but no. Hate wins over charity.

    • somer
      Posted May 24, 2017 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

      The agreement with Jakarta following the Tsunami ended their war for independence as an islamic state. Sharia law within Aceh was always a condition of that unification. They are on the northern tip of Sumatra near the Asian mainland and have always been more religious than the rest of Indonesia, having been converted first.

  14. Posted May 24, 2017 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

    and yet American leftists overwhelmingly wanted to import thousands of Syrians and other Muslims to US, people who share this ideology and world-view, and turn US into another W.Europe.

    Islam is not compatible with our society. Get that through your heads.

    • Tom
      Posted May 24, 2017 at 11:59 pm | Permalink

      The situation in Western Europe is the consequence of long established and interlinked cultural, trade and communication routes and the relative freedom of movement the ex empires have granted to ex colonials
      There are also a number of conflicts in these areas which unsurprisingly encourage people to move to a safer place.
      Many will return when (if) peace breaks out. We will have to see.
      Imagine, if you would, that Mexico was an Islamic country and the battling cartels were ISIS etc. What would be happening in the US now?
      Could you ignore the plight of the refugees and could you identify the agents of ISIS and stop them crossing or even find them afterwards?
      Extend this imaginary conflict to include all of the Americas and I think you may by the analogy appreciate the complexity of the situation in Europe

      • Posted May 26, 2017 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

        Europe should intervene to make Syria & other nearby Islamic countries safer places, instead of inviting people from there to seek refuge on its land, inevitably making it unsafe.

        It is not wise to fight a pandemic by inviting the infected people to uninfected territories, esp. if there is no effective treatment.

  15. Posted May 26, 2017 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    If those two men did like women, this would still not spare them and their girlfriends the lashing (indeed, lashes would be fewer).

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