Aceh Province bands outdoor music concerts under an interpretation of Sharia law

May 2016

Live events sector



Outdoor music concerts have been banned in a Regency in Indonesia’s conservative Aceh province on the grounds they violate Sharia law. New regulations – including a ban on women straddling motorcycles (they must ride side-saddle), unaccompanied women working or visiting night spots after 23.00 – as well and a requirement that boys and girls are taught separately at school – have been introduced in different parts of Aceh in recent years. he province, the only part of Indonesia that enforces Sharia law, also outlaws gambling, drinking and even fraternising with the opposite sex outside marriage. Muslim women must wear a hijab in public and gay sex is punishable by 100 lashes of the cane.
The outdoor music ban comes after local singing sensation Ady Bergek was told he could not proceed with a concert on April 3rd because it would violate Sharia law. Bergek (whose name means unruly in the Acehnese language) is famous for his take on Dangdut, a genre that borrows from traditional Indonesian music as well as from Indian and Malaysian films.
West Aceh Regent (Bupati) Teuku Alaidinsyah was quoted in Kompas saying the ban was based on a recommendation by Ulema (a body of Muslim scholars trained in Islamic law), who believed a concert had more disadvantages than advantages. A statement by the Regent said: “We will not be issuing a permit for music concerts since the recommendation by the Ulema, but a music event in a cafe or warung kopi [coffee shop] is permitted”.


Teungku Faisal Ali, the deputy head of the Aceh Ulema Council added: “For instance, there was no segregation between male and female spectators and the concert went into the evening, while according to Islamic sharia, a music concert should end before the evening,” and “After that we protested, also the mayor’s office protested, because the organiser did not comply with the regulations, the Islamic Sharia. And later on the organiser extended their apology.”
The central government in Jakarta granted Aceh’s religious leaders the right to impose Sharia law in 2001.

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