Update July 7: All the women in the cycling club have been identified and are being given religious counseling. They have publicly apologized for their attire.
A group of female cyclists in Aceh is causing a public stir in the conservative province after photos and videos of them wearing tight-fitting clothes circulated widely on the internet.
The group — consisting of at least 10 women and a man who appears to be their tour leader — was seen uniformly wearing pink long sleeve t-shirts, which has been dubbed as “revealing” and “sexy” by local media outlets, as their outfits are tight-fitting and therefore considered to be in conflict with local Islamic customs. Most of the ladies, the reports pointed out, did not wear the hijab.
The women were reportedly riding in the province’s capital of Banda Aceh, with their photos and videos circulating since yesterday. In one photo, the group appears to be posing at the Ulee Lheue beach.
Banda Aceh Mayor Aminullah Usman said he has received a complaint about the group. He said he has instructed the Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) and the Wilayatul Hisbah (WH), the supervisory agency for the implementation of sharia law in Aceh, to look for the women and apprehend them.
“This city implements Islamic law, every guest who comes here must respect and obey the rules that exist in the city. Even if the guests are from non-muslim groups, they have to respect the norms in Aceh,” Aminullah said today.
Aminullah added that as the women have violated existing sharia law, they have to be provided with official counseling. Hidayat, who heads the Satpol PP and WH in Aceh, said his agencies are still looking for the group and promised to tighten supervision on sharia-appropriate clothing on cyclists.
In Aceh’s Qanun (sharia legal statute), women must dress in clothing that sufficiently covers their aurat (private parts) without showing the body’s curves.
Aceh is the only province in the world’s biggest Muslim-majority nation that imposes sharia law, part of a 2005 autonomy deal with the central government that ended a decades-long separatist insurgency.
Since then, the province has been known around the world for its strict enforcement of sharia law, such as flogging citizens for drinking alcohol, engaging in adultery or pre-marital sex, and having gay sex.