Journalism and Syariah in Aceh: Uncomfortable Co-existence

A suicide is always tragic, but teenage suicide is particularly so. In the case of the young Acehnese girl, Putri Erlina, the personal tragedy of suicide was overwhelmed by the public debate that it triggered.

The tragedy illustrates the complicated and contested relationship between secular law and Islamic Syariah in Aceh. The divisions within the journalists’ community over journalistic ethics and Syariah appear to reflect a larger controversy within the public sphere over the lack of a clear consensus on the implementation of Islamic criminal bylaws in Aceh. In this sense, the discussion of press ethics mirrors the broader discussion of Syariah, something that everyone formally “supports,” but which is still highly contested in everyday practice.

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