الخميس، 1 يوليو، 2010
Public is best bet vs sharia-based bylaws, say legislators
Arghea Desafti Hapsari, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Thu, 07/01/2010 7:51 AM | Headlines
The public cannot count on the government to overturn sharia-based bylaws and should push for controversial laws to be reviewed through “people power”, legislators said.
Civil society should now rely on itself in efforts to revoke sharia-based bylaws, legislator Budiman Sudjatmiko told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.
“The Home Ministry has yet to make a serious effort. They should list the bylaws and warn the regional heads if they find laws that oppose our national ideology, Pancasila,” said Budiman, who is a member of House of Representatives’ Commission II overseeing home affairs.
Aziz Syamsuddin, a member of House Commission III overseeing legal affairs, said those who seek to contest sharia-based bylaws could also resort to the State Administrative Court, which accepts requests to annul bylaws for 90 days after they are enacted.
“After 90 days they should ask their local regional council to revoke the bylaws they deem problematic,” said Aziz, a Golkar Party member.
People should not put all their hopes in the Home Ministry, because Home Minister Gamawan Fauzi endorsed sharia-based bylaws when he was governor of West Sumatra, said Budiman, who is from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P).
Gamawan was known to have supported bylaws that required women to wear veils in public and one that made it compulsory to educate students to be able to read the Koran.
Concerns have been raised over hundreds of sharia-based bylaws that discriminate against women and minorities.
A number of Islamic groups in Bekasi recently demanded the administration adopt the sharia to curb “ongoing attempts to convert Muslims to Christianity.”
Such bylaws are not in line with the nation’s pluralism principle and violate international laws on human rights that the country has ratified, National Commission on Human Rights chairman Ifdhal Kasim told the Post.
“Bylaws cannot, for example, make it compulsory for an individual to pray to God or specify how a person should dress. The state’s duty is to fulfill the needs of the people,” Ifdhal said.
Previous legal efforts to overturn bylaws have stumbled. The Supreme Court turned down a 2007 request to review a Tangerang municipality bylaw that bans “everyone exhibiting suspicious behavior, and therefore creates suspicion that he or she is a prostitute” from wandering public areas. The court determined that the Tangerang bylaw did not contradict higher laws.
Examples of sharia-based bylaws
• The 2003 Gorontalo Provincial Regulation on Prevention of Immorality, article 3: “Every man and woman who is not married to one another is banned from being together in places or times that are inappropriate according to the religious and decency norms and the customary law”.
• The 2001 West Sumatra Provincial Regulation on Prevention and Eradication of Immorality, article 16 says: “Public participation can be realized in the form of an obligation to report to the nearest authority if a person knows of conduct that is allegedly immoral”.
• The 2003 Padang bylaw on Koran Reading Skills for Elementary Students states all graduates are required to have certificates on their Koran reading skills as a requisite to enter the secondary junior level.
Sources: www.nusantaraonline.org, padangkini.com