INDONESIA: An elderly Christian woman has been caned in a conservative Indonesian province for selling alcohol, the first time someone from outside the Islamic faith has been punished there under strict religious laws.
The 60-year was whipped nearly 30 times with a rattan cane before a crowd of hundreds in Aceh province Tuesday, an official said, along with a couple who were subjected to 100 lashes for committing adultery.
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Aceh is the only province in the predominantly Muslim country that applies sharia law, and public canings for breaches of Islamic code happen on a regular basis and often attract huge crowds.
Those caught engaging in adultery, same-sex relationships, drinking and even associating with unmarried members of the opposite sex can end up facing the cane.
Though the law once only applied to Muslims, a bylaw that took effect late last year allowed sharia regulations to be applied to non-Muslims in certain situations, Lili Suparli, a senior official at the Central Aceh prosecutor's office told AFP.
"This is the first case of a non-Muslim being punished under Islamic criminal bylaw," he said, referring to the punishment of the Christian woman.
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Aceh 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.
Islamic laws have been strengthened since the province struck a peace deal with the central government in 2005.
More than 90 per cent of Indonesians describe themselves as Muslim, but the vast majority practise a moderate form of the faith.
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