Indonesian Women Suffer Higher Rates of Caining as Punishment

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Olivia Elswick, Asia CorrespondentLast Modified: 23:06 p.m. DST, 20 May 2014

Taliban beating woman in public Photo by: RAWAEAST ACEH, Indonesia - A 25-year-old widow claims she was raped by eight men after they allegedly found her with a married man in her home in Lhokbani, a village in East Aceh district. The man, 40, and woman were beaten and doused with sewage before they were turned over to Islamic police in the Aceh province.

Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim nation, consisting of 240 million people. More than 90% of Indonesians describe themselves as Muslims though most practice a moderate form of Islam. Indonesia has a policy of secularism but Aceh, a principally Muslim province on the northern tip of Sumatra, practices a version of Sharia Islamic law.

The right to use Islamic law was granted to Aceh in a bid to end a long-running separatist insurgency and give the province more autonomy. Special police enforce this law and regular police forces enforce criminal law for cases such as rape.

Ibrahim Latif, head of Sharia law in the district, said his office recommends the widow and the man be caned nine times for violating religious law. Latif believes the two violated Sharia law simply by being in the same room together, though Latif claims that the widow and the man admitted to having had sex earlier. He is married with five children.

Police have arrested three of the eight men and are searching for the others. Latif said the eight could be caned for the rape but, “it will be too lenient if they just received the same punishment of nine strokes.” Caning was introduced as punishment with the enactment of the province’s Special Autonomy Law of 2001 for crimes such as alcohol consumption, adultery, being alone with someone of the opposite sex who is not a spouse or relative, and eating, drinking, or selling food during the sunlight hours of Ramadan, a month of fasting.

Many of Aceh’s Sharia laws are thought to target women, such as an incident this spring when police pulled women over and forced them to sit sideways on motorbikes, legs dangling near the rear wheel. The police and members of the public conduct raids to ensure women adhere to the local dress codes, and in 2012, 62 women in Bireuen district were detained for wearing tight clothing.

Lt. Col Hariadi, East Aceh police chief said the men arrested are being questioned on charges of rape. One of the accused, a 13-year-old boy, will be charged as an adult but prosecuted in a closed-door trial. The criminal charge of rape carries a maximum incarceration of 15 years. Officials have said that the sexual assault will not be taken into consideration in determining the punishment of the religious crime she was committing.

Follow Olivia on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Asia Correspondent: @OCElswick

Sudan: Pregnant Woman Condemned to Death or Religious Conversion

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Olivia Elswick, Contributing JournalistLast Modified: 00:13 a.m. DST, 16 May 2014

Atsbi village, Tigray, Christian Woman, Photo by Evgeni ZotovKHARTOUM, Sudan - Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, 27, has until Thursday to either denounce her Christian faith or face a death sentence.

When Ibrahim’s father, a Sudanese Muslim, abandoned her at age six, her mother, an Ethiopian Orthodox, raised her as a Christian. Ibrahim identifies herself as a Christian, but despite this she is considered by the courts to be a Muslim, as her father was.

She was reported by a family member in August 2013 and was arrested on charges of adultery. Ibrahim has been convicted by a Khartuom court for abandoning her Muslim faith in favor of Christianity, an action that, under Sharia law, indicates that she committed adultery with her husband, a non-Muslim.

Because the law considers her a Muslim, her marriage to a Christian man is considered void and adulterous. Marriage to a non-Muslim man is prohibited for Muslim women. Ibrahim and her husband have a 20-month-old son and she is expected to give birth to her second child sometime next month.

In past cases involving pregnant women, the Sudanese government has waited until the woman gave birth before executing a sentence. If sentenced to death she will likely be flogged with 100 lashes then hanged.

The blatant disrespect for freedom of religion and interference in the personal life of Sudanese citizens is outraging people in Sudan and abroad. Authorities have closed Khartuom University indefinitely after Sudanese students there mounted a protest begging for the end to human rights violations, more freedom, and better social and economic conditions.

In Khartuom, foreign embassies are urging the government to rethink its decision. A joint statement issued from the embassies of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands says, “We call upon the government of Sudan to respect the right to freedom of religion, including one's right to change one's faith or beliefs, a right which is enshrined in international human rights law as well as in Sudan's own 2005 Interim Constitution.

We further urge Sudanese legal authorities to approach Ms. Meriam's case with justice and compassion that is in keeping with the values of the Sudanese people,” the joint statement read.

Follow Olivia on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Contributing Journalist: @OCElswick

Sudanese Death by Stoning | Intisar Abdalla

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 23:53 PM EDT, 31 May 2012

Young Mother, Fati Issia and Son Moctar, Photo by Mercy CorpsKHARTOUM, Sudan - Intisar Sharif Abdalla, a young Sudanese woman has been sentenced to death by stoning for the alleged crime of adultery.  She was sentenced by an Ombada criminal court but is being held in the capital while her case is under appeal according to Reuter’s news agency.

Abdalla is the latest woman to become ensnared by would be arbiters of moral turpitude within the Islamic world. These men routinely condemn people under Sharia law to punishments ranging from flogging to stoning.

Convictions and sentencing of women for alleged sexual crimes has become increasingly prevalent in East and West African countries where extreme Islamist are coalescing their power base and instituting Taliban like rule over the populace.

In Abdalla’s case, she has also fallen victim to the confluence of events that led to the succession of South Sudan last year. South Sudan's population practices a variety of beliefs including Christianity and indigenous practices, whereas Sudan is ubiquitously Muslim.

During her trial by the Ombada court, she could not assist her lawyers in mounting any defense because she does not speak Arabic and an interpreter was not provided for her. Additionally, according to Reuters she is illiterate and her nationality has not been confirmed. She could have been a refugee fleeing one of the numerous conflicts that continue to plague either Sudan or South Sudan, or one of the neighboring countries.

Humanitarian groups, such as Human Rights Watch have sounded the alarm and brought Abdalla’s plight to the attention of the world. In addition to her rights being violated as a woman, her infant son is imprisoned with her as she awaits the outcome of her 22 April 2012 conviction.

Sudan began moving toward a more stringent interpretation of Islamic law following a 1989 coup. Ten years later in Northern Nigeria, Islamic extremists like Boko Haram implemented Sharia law with the desire to supersede existing legislative statutes codified by a non-religious government.

Like Northern Nigeria which seeks to usurp and replace existing laws with Sharia, President Omar Hassan al-Bashir committed to the adoption of a fully Islamic constitution following the secession of the south.

"If south Sudan secedes, we will change the constitution and at that time there will be no time to speak of diversity of culture and ethnicity," Bashir told supporters at a rally in the eastern city of Gedaref.

"Sharia [Islamic law] and Islam will be the main source for the constitution, Islam the official religion and Arabic the official language," he said. (Source: Guardian UK)

Nigeria and now Sudan have had cases in which Islamic Sharia courts have sentenced women to death by stoning. In Nigeria both Safiya Hussaini and Amina Lawal were sentenced for adultery, but after international pressure and global outcry, each of the women was subsequently freed.

However, while incarcerated they faced the prolonged threat of a horrible death, the possibility of being murdered extra judicially, as well as the psychological stress of living at the mercy of irrational misogynists.

Abdalla’s case will hopefully be dismissed or her sentenced commuted, which according to Fahima Hashim, a women's rights activist, is a real possibility because previous stoning sentences in Sudan had not been carried out. If Abdalla could comprehend the complexity of case and its potential outcome, it would provide scant relief, and for now we can do little more than wait with her.

Sharia Law - Nigerian Thief Burned Alive

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 15:20 PM EDT, 4 May 2012

South African Man Killed by Necklacing, Photo by SofoloPOTISKUM, Nigeria – Potiskum is a city 575 kilometers (350 miles) northeast of Nigeria's central capital, Abuja. It is located in Yobe state which is the epicenter of the radical Islamic group, Boko Haram's reign of terror.

The group has perpetrated over 480 killings since the beginning of the year as they seek to bring Northern Nigeria and then the rest of the country under Sharia law.

Sharia law is one of the harshest interpretations of the Quran and results in the brutalization of many people for crimes which would be considered misdemeanors in the West.

When I was a child living in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, I can vividly recall when a young boy was nearly beaten to death for stealing some oranges and silverware from one of the homes in the neighborhood.

We lived on the university campus in an affluent neighborhood, and one day as I was returning home from school I approached an angry mob of people kicking and hitting a young boy who was screaming for mercy.  I was so frightened, I ran home to get my mother who along with my uncle called the police and then returned with me to the scene.

The violence had escalated during my brief absence, but I was relieved when the police arrived. What happened next has remained with me nearly forty years later. The policemen asked the assembled crowd which included the housekeepers, cooks, and gardeners of our neighbors, what had occurred.

Some people shouted in Swahili, others in broken English, explaining that the young boy had stolen some oranges and silverware from one of the houses. On the ground before the accused thief lay the silverware lay scattered about and some oranges.

As a child, the only thing I focused on were the oranges and I thought that he must have been terribly hungry to have stolen them. After the crowd explained the situation, I was shocked and appalled to see one of the policeman reach to his belt. He first removed some handcuffs which he put on the young boy and I thought that was the end of it.

But to my shock and dismay, the policeman then removed his belt and began to beat the boy mercilessly. I screamed, cried and pleaded for them to stop as the boy fell to the ground and curled up in a fetal position to protect his body. The belt buckle cut open one of his eyes just as my uncle tried unsuccessfully to intervene and calm the situation.

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Published: 4 May 2012 (Page 2 of 2)

It was to no avail so my mother quickly grabbed my hand and pulled me away from the scene back toward our house.  I was crying and screaming that they were killing him, but my mother’s only concern at that time was to protect me from further psychological damage from witnessing such an abhorrent act. I never knew what happened to the boy, but my mother explained to me that under Islamic law thieves usually had their hands cut off.

So today’s story of the Nigerian thief being beaten and burned alive was viscerally reminiscent of that day long ago in East Africa. There can be no justification for the cruelty and inhumanity of what occurred to the boy from my childhood, nor the Nigerian man in the cattle market. Though the differences are stark, since the boy seemed to be hungry, whereas the Nigerian thief was definitely guilty of prior bad acts.

The thieves accosted sellers at a cattle market, shooting into the crowd with the intent of driving away the merchants and stealing their cattle and money. Cattle in Nigeria, as in other parts of Africa, are an extremely valuable commodity. They provide meat, milk, dung, and hides.

Herdsmen are often attacked by marauding thieves as they take their stock to market. If they are fortunate enough to make it to market without incident, their return journey can be just as dangerous as they carry hundreds of Naira in cash from the proceeds of their sales.

During the altercation in the market and the ensuing gun fire, at least 34 people were killed. As the thieves made their retreat, one of the gunmen was unable to escape and was left to suffer the full wrath of the enraged crowd. As is the custom in the treatment of thieves in many parts of Africa, and as witnessed by me, they began to beat the man mercilessly, then set him on fire.

This retaliation spawned more violence as the thieves returned later that night, after the market closed, and hacked cattle to death with machetes, set stalls, cars and holding pens on fire, leaving only charred ground in their wake.

A very graphic video of a crowd beating and burning another Nigerian man to death for stealing can be viewed at the link below. Normally, we embed videos to provide a richer experience and to enhance our reader's understanding of the subject matter.  However, in this case, the video is so disturbing that we are posting this link instead. (View Video Here)

Although, the primary reason stated for the death of the man in the video has been attributed to the fact that he was Gay, Paul Canning of LGBT Asylum has refuted this claim, stating “this man is not gay, but was accused of being a thief.

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Twitter: @nahmias_report Editor: @ayannanahmias

Africa's Christians Under Attack

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 22:05 PM EDT, 30 April 2012

NAIROBI, Kenya - In recent months, across Africa, Christian sects have been under attack from extremist. On Sunday, 29 April 2012, a church in Ngara was bombed leaving one person confirmed dead and 16 others seriously injured.

Although the US embassy warned of an imminent threat of terrorist attacks in the country, specific targets were not identified. The lone attacker is said to have entered God’s House of Miracles International Church with other worshipers, at which point he hurled a grenade toward the front pews before hastily retreating toward the exit.

Police immediately launched an investigation while many of the victims were taken to be treated at the Guru Nanak and Kenyatta National hospitals. Unlike the conflict between radical Islamists and Christians in northern Nigeria, the terrorist’s attacks in Kenya are primarily a reaction to Kenya’s incursion into Somalia in October 2011 when troops were dispatched to fight al-Shabab fighter.

Terrorist attacks like the Sunday church bombings in Kenya and Nigeria seem to be the favored method of expressing dissatisfaction with the government. Prior to the Ngara bombing, there was a grenade attack on a church service in Mtwapa, Mombasa that left one person dead and ten others seriously injured.

From East Africa to West Africa, the incidence of sectarian violence is escalating. Previously, we reported on the rising conflict between Christians and extremist Islamic factions in northern Nigeria’s Kano State. The radical Islamic sect known as Boko Haram has in recent months unleashed bloody attacks on Christians and other non-Islamic sects as they seek to impose Sharia law in Nigeria.

Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, is widely believed to be Boko Haram's base of operations and has the highest number of incidents of violence against Christians, police, and the military. Thus, the Monday 30 April 2012, Kano church attack by Boko Haram, a day after the Nairobi bombing was surprising.

The Nigerian attack was carried out by gunmen on motorcycles who hurled small homemade bombs into a university lecture hall where church services were being conducted. A total of 19 people were injured or killed in Boko Haram attacks on Christians in Maiduguri and Kano on both Sunday and Monday.

According to an official presidential statement, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan condemned the murderous terrorist attack on the Bayero University Campus in Kano yesterday and the "brutal killing of innocent worshipers by vicious assailants." However, many Nigerians believe that Goodluck has not been forceful enough in his efforts to eradicate Boko Haram and restore peace in the North.

The Vatican has also condemned the incidents. “The new terrorist attacks in Kenya and Nigeria at Christian celebrations are horrible and despicable acts,” Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said.

“We must be close to victims and communities that suffer just as they are peacefully celebrating a faith that wants love and peace for all,” he said. “We must encourage the whole population.... not to give in to the temptation to fall into the vicious circle of homicidal hatred,” he added. (Source: Independent Catholic News)

Nigeria's Taliban Clash with Police

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 04:12 AM EDT, 11 February 2010

Maiduguri (Nigeria) - In July 2009 violence erupted in Northern Nigeria between Boko Haram and government troops. The equivalent of the Taliban they seek to replace the current penal code with Quran based Sharia law.  Currently 12 of the 36 states in Nigeria enforce Sharia law.

During the clashes the leader of Boko Haram was killed and his followers accused the police of conducting an extra-judicial killing. In the ensuing months the conflict increased in violence resulting in significant causalities.

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On Tuesday, February 9, 2010 the news channel  Al-Jazeera aired footage that shows two uniformed men forcing seven young men to lie face-down at the side of a busy road. The uniformed men then fire into the men's backs. The footage could not be authenticated by The Associated Press.

Nigerian Police have been accused of being responsible for hundreds of extra-judicial executions, other unlawful killings and enforced disappearances every year. It also said the majority of the killings go uninvestigated and the police officers responsible go unpunished. If the purported execution of these young men is confirmed, it will be another blow to the image and perception of Nigeria's police force.

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Borno state Police Commissioner Ibrahim Abdu says the TV images are false and "a deliberate attempt of the surviving sect members to cause confusion and threats."

Source: The Associated Press