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Two Indonesian Christians flogged under Sharia law for playing arcade game

People watch as Tjia Nyuk Hwa, 45, an Indonesian Christian, is publicly flogged outside a mosque in Banda Aceh on February 27, 2018, for playing a children's entertainment game seen as violating Islamic law.
Aceh is the only province in the world's most populous Muslim-majority country that imposes sharia law and people can be flogged for a range of offences -- from gambling, to drinking alcohol to having gay sex or relations outside of marriage. / AFP PHOTO / CHAIDEER MAHYUDDIN

Sharia law was instituted in the region in 2001 as part of a deal with the central government to put an end to insurgency.

Two Indonesian Christians were subjected to public flogging on the streets of Aceh, Indonesia, after playing a kids’ arcade game that had been banned. The long-standing children’s entertainment game lets players exchange tokens for prize vouchers, which include cash prizes. Under sharia law, this is seen as gambling, which is a crime.

Dahlan Silitonga, 61, and Tjia Nyuk Hwa, 45, were whipped six and seven times respectively for gambling, alongside another man who drew 19 lashes for being involved with the game. The public spectacle also included the whipping of a couple for public displays of affection, the couple drew two dozen lashes each.

The crowd of onlookers swelled to nearly 300 as they jeered and shouted at the five people to “show remorse.” Aceh is the only province in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, that imposes sharia law. People can be flogged for a range of offenses–from gambling and drinking alcohol, to having relations outside of marriage.

The Guardian has Banda Aceh’s mayor Aminullah Usman’s explanation for public floggings:

“This is to create a deterrent effect, in order for people not to repeat violations of Islamic sharia law. We purposely do it in front of the public … so it won’t happen again.”

Sharia law was instituted in the region in 2001 as part of a deal with the central government to put an end to insurgency. Since 2001, these two Christians are part of a mere handful of non-Muslims who have been punished for breaking sharia law. Non-Muslims who have broken sharia law have the option of standing trial or accepting public flogging. Many choose flogging in order be done with it, rather than stand for a lengthy trial.

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