Indonesia warned against Sharia law
From correspondents in Jakarta
November 24, 2006
INDONESIA'S relations with other countries could be affected if it adopted Islamic Sharia law which is being introduced in one province, a European Parliament delegation said today.
Hartmut Nassauer, head of the delegation of eight MEPs, said non-governmental organisations had raised concerns about Sharia law, which is being gradually introduced in Aceh province.

"Of course it's a matter for the Indonesian people and society to decide on the law they have," Mr Nassauer said at the end of the five-day visit by the group which is in charge of links with Southeast Asia.

"What I would like to say is such a development has an impact on relations to other countries, it could burden the situation if there is a kind of religious law having consequences for state partnerships," he said.

Mr Nassauer said that a religious legal system must not influence the state legal code.

"According to our conception of most fundamental human rights, the liberty of... faith is one of the most important ones. It includes the right to live without faith and consequently you do not have to obey a faith which is not yours," he said.

However, the German MEP noted that Indonesia's main Muslim organisation had expressed opposition to the introduction of Sharia law.

"It was good to hear from representatives from Nahdlatul Ulama, for example, that this important and largest Muslim organisation, not only of Indonesia but of the world, is obviously against the implementing of Sharia law," he said.

The Indonesian Government allowed Aceh to implement Islamic law in 2001 as part of limited self-rule to pacify demands for independence.

Aceh has so far only partially implemented Sharia, enforcing Muslim dress codes and obligations such as daily five-time prayers, fasting and alms-giving.