Authorities in Aceh are pursuing a foreign tourist after she was filmed committing one of the biggest cultural and religious faux pas in the conservative province.
A video seemingly taken by a local circulated last week showing a pair of Caucasian tourists strolling on a beach in Aceh Singkil Regency. The woman was wearing a two-piece swimsuit, while the man was in board shorts but had a towel hanging on his shoulder.
Aceh is the only province in Indonesia with special authority to enact sharia law. Under Aceh’s qanun (Islamic criminal code), men and women are required to dress modestly in public, effectively ruling out bikinis.
The original uploader of the video jibed that the tourists probably thought they were in Bali and weren’t aware of Aceh’s customs and laws.
Ahmad Yani, the head of Aceh Singkil’s Satpol PP (Public Order Agency) and Wilayatul Hisbah (Religious Police) confirmed that the video was taken last Wednesday and that authorities are looking for the tourists over the bikini offense (but not so much the board shorts).
“But we have not been able to find any more tourists in Singkil,” he said.
“We urge that all tourists who go to the beach in Aceh Singkil comply with the rules.”
In 2016, authorities in the city of Lhokseumawe gave a warning to two German tourists after one of them wore a bikini at the beach. The tourists then claimed ignorance of Aceh’s customs.
Punishments for qanun violations do get more severe in Aceh. The province is known to cane civilians in public over violations like drinking alcohol and having extramarital sex.