JAKARTA, Indonesia – Criticism mounted Wednesday (June 6th) over Muslim by-laws being drafted in the city of Tasikmalaya that would be the first Sharia-inspired local laws in Java.
The regulations would prohibit women from going outside without headscarves and men and women who are not married from being alone together, among other provisions.
The city hopes the law can go into force before Ramadan starts in mid-July, Tasikmalaya city assistant Edi Sumardi told Detik.com.
Tasikmalaya housewife Nurul Fitriasari opposes the measures, although she herself wears a headscarf, The Jakarta Globe said.
"Personally it won't affect me because I wear a headscarf anyway. But if you force people to wear one there will be resistance because it's a matter of choice," she said. "This is a country united in diversity and it is not an Islamic state."
"In the past, we were banned from wearing the headscarves, now we are forced to wear them," said Hemasari, a women's rights activist from Tasikmalaya, who once joined a seven-day strike over a high school's refusal to permit headscarves.
"Let wearing a headscarf be an exclusively private matter for every Muslim woman," she told The Jakarta Post.
The West Java branch of the Islamic Council of Ulema (MUI) said the bylaws must not contradict national laws.
"Are such bylaws in line with higher laws and regulations?" said MUI West Java chairman Hafidz Utsman, according to The Globe. "If one is a good Muslim, she will wear a head scarf regardless. So these bylaws aren't needed."