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Page last updated at 14:17 GMT, Monday, 14 September 2009 15:17 UK

Aceh passes adultery stoning law

Muslim woman walks past Baiturrahman Grand Mosque in Banda Aceh, 11 September 2009
About 98% of Aceh's population is thought to be Muslim

Indonesia's province of Aceh has passed a new law making adultery punishable by stoning to death, a member of the province's parliament has said.

The law also imposes severe sentences for rape, homosexuality, alcohol consumption and gambling.

Opponents had tried to delay the law, saying more debate was needed because it imposes capital punishment.

Sharia law was partially introduced in Aceh in 2001, as part of a government offer to pacify separatist rebels.

A peace deal in 2005 ended the 30-year insurgency, and many of the former rebels have now entered Aceh's government, which enjoys a degree of autonomy from the central government in Jakarta.

It needs more public consultation. We need to involve the ulemas - the Islamic clerics - in drafting the law
Adnan Beuransah, Aceh Party

The legislation was passed unanimously by Aceh's regional legislature, said assembly member Bahrom Rasjid.

"This law will be effective in 30 days with or without the approval of Aceh's governor," he said.

The governor of Aceh, a former rebel with the Free Aceh Movement, is opposed to strict Sharia law. He had urged more debate over the bill.

'Moral degradation'

Married people convicted of adultery can be sentenced to death by stoning. Unmarried people can be sentenced to 100 lashes with a cane.

Acehnese men read the Koran, Baiturrahman mosque in Banda Aceh
Muslim men in Aceh are expected to attend prayers every day

Previously, Aceh's partially-adopted Sharia law enforced Muslim dress codes and mandatory prayers.

"This law is a preventive measure for Acehnese people so that they will avoid moral degradation," said Moharriyadia, a spokesman for the Prosperous Justice Party.

A new parliament will be sworn in next month, after local polls saw the moderate Aceh Party win the most seats in the provincial assembly.

The Aceh Party has said it will review the law once the new parliament is sitting.

"It needs more public consultation. We need to involve the ulemas - the Islamic clerics - in drafting the law," said Adnan Beuransah, a spokesperson for the Aceh Party.

About 90% of Indonesia's 235 million people are Muslim, practising a moderate form of the religion.



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