CAIRO - Religious leaders and activists in Indonesia's province of Aceh were united Thursday, December 22, in rejecting Western criticism over the arrest of punks in the predominantly Muslim area.
The existence of punks in Aceh is weakening the implementation of Islamic Shari`ah in Aceh that is now being promoted, by damaging the moral of the youths in Aceh," said Mukhtar Syafari, the head of the Rabithath Muta'allin Pidie association of scholars, reported the Jakarta Globe.
Acehnese police arrested 65 punks last week during a concert in the capital Banda Aceh.
The youngsters were sent to a police camp, where local authorities say they would be given "guidance".
The guidance sessions include shaving their heads, cutting the hair of the girls short and intensive military-like discipline drills.
But the move has sparked Western criticism and accusations of human rights violations.
But Mukhtar believes that the accusations of human rights violations were "unbalanced".
"So far, these human rights defenders have come up with unbalanced statements on the way punks are provided with guidance although they themselves do not do anything," he said.
Illiza Sa'aduddin Djamal, the deputy mayor of Banda Aceh, also rejected Western accusations.
"Don't just listen to negative issues regarding the guidance we are providing them," Illiza said.
"Please come and see for yourself that we really only want them to become better."
Scholars have called on local authorities to outlaw punk lifestyle in the predominantly Muslim province.
"We call on the local government to issue a qanun (bylaw) that would ban punk communities in Aceh," said Faisal Ali, Secretary of Aceh Ulama Association, reported the Jakarta Post.
Aceh, located on the northern tip of Sumatra Island, has been granted partial autonomy from the central government in Jakarta under the Special Autonomy Law in 2001.
Accordingly, the area's provincial administration adopted a series of bylaws governing the implementation of Shari`ah in the province.
The Aceh chapter of Indonesian Muslim Student Action Unity (Kammi) accused the West of following double-standard policies in dealing with Muslims.
"In a number of Western countries, Muslims are not allowed to wear the veil. Is that not a human rights violation? said Muhammad Muaz Munawar, who heads the chapter.
France banned Muslims from wearing headscarf (hijab) and face-veil in public places, with several European countries following suit.
Muaz said that everyone should respect the policies of other countries."Each country must have its own wisdom, so everyone else should respect it.