Three “canoodling” couples were cruelly whipped in a humiliating public punishment in Indonesia for violating local sharia law.
After the backs of the six men and women had been flogged more than 20 times each, some collapsed, bleeding, crying with severe pain and had to be carried off stage.
The couples were punished in Banda Aceh for showing affection in public, and their whipping — using a rattan cane — came after they’d already been jailed for several months, according to Gulf News.
They were beaten by a masked officer for behaving “amorously”.
Merdeka reports the “Islamic sharia violators” were whipped at Bustanus Salatin Park “in the middle of the city”, near the town hall.
The publication said not many residents attended the punishment, but students from Malaysia, studying at the Ar-Raniry State Islamic University, witnessed the distressing beating.
Wincing with pain, some collapsed after the caning, while one man was so badly injured paramedics tried to stretcher him off the stage, but he refused, and was instead carried down by police.
The mayor of Banda Aceh, Animulla Usman, said the aim of flogging the couples in public was to “make them repent”.
He said carrying out the whipping in the middle of a park, on a stage, was not to encourage people “to laugh at the perpetrators but to serve as a lesson to us all”.
Mr Usman said none of the couples were local residents but had violated strict sharia laws while in the city of Banda Aceh.
The Indonesian province routinely flogs gamblers, adulterers and homosexuals.
Mr Usman told children they were banned from watching the punishment, as it could affect their “psychological development”.
Amnesty International says caning is an “inhuman and degrading form of punishment that may amount to torture which should never be used in any circumstances”.
“The Aceh authorities’ decision to cane unmarried couples and sex workers, in front of hundreds of spectators, is an act of utmost cruelty,” Amnesty International Indonesia executive director Usman Hamid said.
The charity said between January and April last year 47 people were flogged in public, “and the list is only getting longer”.
“The provincial administration of Aceh must immediately remove this abhorrent form of punishment from its law books,” Mr Hamid said.
“It is also high time for the international community to press Indonesia to provide a safer environment for everyone in Aceh.
“The situation risks deteriorating rapidly unless the local administration is pushed to take its obligations to respect human rights seriously.”
The Times says about 90 per cent of Indonesia’s 250 million people are Muslims, making it the largest Islamic population in the world.
But it has long taken an inclusive and tolerant line.
Over the past two decades, more conservative rules have been established, and in ultraconservative Aceh, sharia is enforced by dedicated police, and offences are punishable by public floggings and prison sentences.
Earlier this year, two teenage sweethearts were brutally caned in front of a baying crowd just because they were caught cuddling.
WHAT IS SHARIA LAW?
Sharia law is a set of religious principles that aim to help Muslims understand how to lead their daily lives as part of Islamic tradition.
Serving as Islam’s religious legal system, it was derived from both the Koran — the central religious text of Islam — and fatwas, rulings made by Islamic scholars familiar with sacred Islamic texts.
The Arabic word sharia originally meant “way” or “path” and refers to the revealed law of God. It informs every aspect of the daily life of a Muslim.
There are two main branches of sharia — ibadat, meaning rituals or acts of worship, and mu’amalat, meaning human interactions and social relations.
These break down into smaller branches that include things like finances, marriage, diet, prayers, fasting and pilgrimage.
This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission