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Unmarried Indonesian couples banned from riding motorbikes as it ‘could lead to sinful acts’

Indonesian district approves ban as part of “efforts to implement sharia law fully” amid fears over unmarried people sitting closely together on motorcycles
The latest move to ban shared motorbike rides will affect more than 500,000 people on North Aceh Photo: AFP/Getty

A district in Indonesia’s Aceh has banned unmarried men and women from riding together on motorbikes, a lawmaker said Monday, amid fears that the practice “could lead to sinful acts”.

In the latest new Islamic regulation in the conservative province, MPs in North Aceh district last week approved the regulation, which will come into effect in a year.

Lawmaker Fauzan Hamzah said authorities were making “efforts to implement sharia law fully”.

“Unmarried people sitting closely together on a motorcycle is clearly against Islamic sharia as it could lead to sinful acts,” Mr Hamzah told AFP.

Aceh, on the northern tip of Sumatra island, is the only province in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country that is allowed to implement Islamic law, and gay sex, gambling and drinking alcohol are already punishable by caning.

The province began implementing sharia law after being granted special autonomy in 2001, an effort by the central government in Jakarta to quell a long-running separatist insurgency.

The latest move to ban shared motorbike rides, which will affect more than 500,000 people on North Aceh, came after one city in Aceh in 2013 prohibited women from straddling male drivers on motorbikes, requiring that they ride side-saddle instead.

The new regulation was the most eye-catching in a series of Islamic bylaws approved in North Aceh on Thursday, which also included a ban on live music performances and the separation of male and female students in school.

The new rules will take effect in May 2016 after a one-year grace period.


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