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Cablegate: South Sulawesi: Bulukumba's Syariah Law a "Crash Program In

VZCZCXRO3698
RR RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHJS #0077/01 3270946
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 230946Z NOV 07
FM AMCONSUL SURABAYA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0112
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0047
RUEHJA/AMEMBASSY JAKARTA 0102
RUEHJS/AMCONSUL SURABAYA 0114
RHHMUNA/USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 0045

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 SURABAYA 000077

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP, EAP/MTS, IRN/EAP, DRL/PHD, INL

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KISL ID
SUBJECT: SOUTH SULAWESI: BULUKUMBA'S SYARIAH LAW A "CRASH PROGRAM IN
RELIGION"

REF: SURABAYA 39, SURABAYA 72, SURABAYA 74

SURABAYA 00000077 001.2 OF 002


This message is sensitive but unclassified. Please protect
accordingly.

1. (SBU) Summary: On November 6, Pol/Econ Officer and Pol/Econ
Assistant traveled to Bulukumba Regency, South Sulawesi to
discuss the practical implementation of Syariah law in the
regency. Located on the southern most tip of South Sulawesi,
Bulukumba has implemented local regulations that mirror Syariah
Islam. Proponents insist that the regulations are necessary to
promote morality and do not apply to the regency's minuscule
non-Muslim population. NGOs familiar with the Regent and local
regulations based on Syariah Islam tell us that they are
misapplied and fundamentally illegal according to Indonesian
Law. End Summary.

2. (U) A mosque-shaped facade greeted ConGen Surabaya officers
entering Bulukumba Regency, the South Sulawesi Kabupaten which
has begun issuing and enforcing Syariah law despite opposition
from NGOs and others. A sign in the middle of the two-storey
structure proclaims, under the English-language heading "Crash
Course," a list of local regulations grounded in Syariah Islam.
They are: 1) Prohibition, oversight, and control over the sale
of alcoholic beverages; 2) Management of zakat (tithes) paid by
the professions and the giving of alms to the poor; 3) Muslim
clothing for men and women; 4) Proficiency in reading the Qur'an
for all prospective marriage partners.

3. (SBU) The Regent explained that the regulations simply
enshrine already strongly-held religious beliefs. When we asked
about implementation and enforcement, the Regent said the
regulations were not being actively enforced. He noted that
prospective marriage partners, for example, are not prevented
from marrying if they cannot recite the Qur'an. They are simply
given assistance in learning it. The Regent added that the
regulations do not apply to the 2% of the regency's non-Muslims.

Local Moral Crisis Prompted Regulations
--------------------------------------------- ----

4. (SBU) Mr. Saipuddin, chairman of the Crescent Star Party
(PBB), spoke with us at his home in Bulukumba regarding Syariah
law. Echoing the regent, he noted that the local regulations
apply to Muslims alone and in any case are neither compulsory
nor binding -- it is only a form of moral guidance. There are no
legal sanctions if someone is found in violation. He explained
that the genesis of local regulations based on Syariah law
actually started in 2000. At that time there were many cafes at
a beach near his house that employed girls from outside
Bulukumba. After receiving many complaints and reports about
family disputes from housewives who were abandoned by their
husbands because of the existence of these cafes, the local
government closed and moved them to the tourist area at Bira
beach some 42 km east of Bulukumba Regency's capital. The local
government then issued regulations based on Syariah and,
Saipuddin concluded, the situation is now back to normal.
Currently, the government only allows cafes to sell liquor to
foreign tourists.

On the Other Hand
----------------------

5. (SBU) Syamsurijal Ad'han of Association of Advocacy for
Education for Children of the People or (LAPAR, Lembaga Advokasi
dan Pendidikan Anak Rakyat), painted a different picture of the
implementation of Syariah in Bulukumba during a November 5
meeting. Ad'han told us that these Syariah regulations are not
simply suggestions. He said that LAPAR "takes risks opposing
Syariah law. For example, when we held a seminar to discuss
Syariah law in Bulukumba in 2006; a gang of people from The
Youth Upholders of Islamic Syariah (Pemuda Penegak Syariah
Islam) forced their way into the meeting and broke up the
gathering." The group later drove LAPAR out of Bulukumba
altogether. Ad'an mentioned that in one village in Bulukumba
regency there is a notice board prohibiting provision of public
services to people not dressed in Muslim clothing. Although we
did not see these particular signs during our visit the
following day, we did see signs in Bulukumba that described the
Syariah-based local regulations (Perda) in force in the Regency.

6. (SBU) According to a report in HalaQah, a magazine published
by LAPAR the headman in the village of Padang, Bulukumba, issued
a "whipping law" to punish a man accused of having an affair
with his cousin. The man was apparently accused of immoral
activity because of letters he wrote advising his cousin not to

SURABAYA 00000077 002.2 OF 002


argue with her husband. He was accused of having an affair with
the woman and given the option of being whipped or submitting to
unspecified "police action". The man chose neither option and
was driven out of the village, but was whipped anyway at the
urging of the headman.

Syariah Islam as an Election Tool
-----------------------------------------

7. (SBU) Ad'han also highlighted early attempts to use Syariah
as a tool during the recent gubernatorial elections (Surabaya
39). Recent election results suggest that demands for the
implementation of Syariah law throughout the province are
limited, however. (Surabaya 72). Third-place gubernatorial
candidate, Azis Kahar Muzakar, was a champion of Syariah Islam
while chairman of the "The Preparatory Committee for the
Application of Islamic Laws" (KPPSI or Komite Persiapan
Penegakan Syariah Islam). Similarly, defeated incumbent Amin
Syam's running mate, Prof. Mansyur Ramly, was a founder of
KPPSI. Although Muzakar did not publicly emphasize Syairat
Islam in the campaign, it could be argued that few, if any
voters, were unclear on his desire to implement Syariah laws
throughout the province if elected. Instead, he used "good
governance" as his campaign theme. While Muzakar's third place
finish puts a question mark over the usefulness of Syariah Islam
as a touchstone for all Sulawesi voters, with nearly 20 percent
of votes cast for Muzakar in the most recent election, Syariah
regulations appear to have a core constituency.
MCCLELLAND

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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