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Aceh orders men, women apart in vehicles, public

BANDA ACEH, INDONESIA (AFP) – Authorities in Indonesia’s ultra-conservative Aceh province ordered men and women not immediately related or married to stay apart in vehicles and public places, the local government said yesterday as it seeks to tighten Islamic law.

Aceh, located on the northern tip of Sumatra island, is the only province in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country that imposes Islamic law.

Authorities told civil servants and members of the public of the opposite sex who have no family relations “not to gather in public spaces, quiet places, as well as in vehicles”, according to a circular issued last week.

It was issued as part of efforts to “shape a generation that adheres to Islamic values in their daily lives” by Indonesia’s 100th independence anniversary in 2045, Aceh government spokesperson Muhammad MTA told AFP yesterday.

“The Aceh generations will not only be capable of competing globally but also capable of maintaining Islam which is integrated into the customs, culture and everyday life of the people of Aceh.”

Muhammad said the new order was a “preventative” move by the local government after it consulted Islamic clerics.

The consequences for breaching the order were unclear.

Indonesia more broadly recognises six major religions.