Aceh, a province of Indonesia, is the only one of the island nation’s areas to have adopted Sharia law. Over the past few years the region of 4.5 million has passed laws to bring its populace, native and otherwise, more into line with its interpretation of Sharia, opening a Sharia court and instituting a Sharia police force, passing a law to stone adulterers, banning tight pants and re-educating “punks.”
The BBC reports that Aceh authorities have taken another step, instituting a regulation that bans women from straddling motorbikes when they ride behind men. Anyone who’s been to Asia knows the ubiquity of motorbikes and how often pillion riders, male and female, can be seen riding astride or sidesaddle. The mayor of one Aceh city says that women straddling a bike behind a male rider is contrary to Islamic values, a risk to “people’s ‘morals and behaviors,’” and that a woman who rides sidesaddle “looks like a woman,” which is preferred.
The regulation will be tested for a month, after which it could become law, but other Muslims have spoken out against it. One commenter wrote that none of the religion’s important texts have anything to say about how motorbikes are ridden, adding that, “In a democratic country, what is claimed to be Sharia must be assessed by the public’s common sense if the government aims to turn the regulation into law.”