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Indonesia: Shariah law draws criticism

TASIKMALAYA, Indonesia, June 6 (UPI) -- Activists criticize the impending enactment of a bylaw requiring all women in the West Java city of Tasikmalaya to wear headscarves.

Hemasari, a women's rights activist from the region, told The Jakarta Post the order "is not based on practical social values."

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The Shariah bylaw was passed in 2009, but is awaiting administrative regulations before it goes into effect. It would require every woman, including visitors, to wear a headscarf within the city limits. It would also outlaw 15 other practices such as prostitution, homosexuality, drug use, alcohol consumption and consumption of pornography, to garner the status of a "religious city."

Hemasari said the administration should focus on applying Shariah law to the realms of business and education.

"If they prove they can benefit from Shariah implementation, people will feel self-obliged to follow Shariah law," she said.

HIV/AIDs activist Syaful Harahap criticized the law for classifying abortion as a violent act, citing a fatwa issued by the Indonesia Ulema Council permitting emergency abortions before the sixth week of pregnancy. He also said he doubted Shariah law enforcement could outlaw homosexuality.

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