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Indonesia’s Aceh considers beheading as punishment for murder

The Indonesian province of Aceh is considering the introduction of beheading as a punishment for murder, adding to growing fears about the spread of conservative Islam in the world’s most populous Muslim country.

Aceh, in northern Indonesia, is already governed by sharia law, and frequently carries out the public caning of gay people and alleged adulterers and gamblers.

Syukri M Yusuf, the head of Aceh’s sharia law and human rights office, said that the provincial government had now asked his office to research beheading as a method of execution under Islamic law and to consult public opinion.

“Beheading is more in line with Islamic law and will cause a deterrent effect. A strict punishment is made to save human beings,” he said, according to the AP.

“We will begin to draft the law when our academic research is completed.”

Aceh is the only province of the 260-million strong nation to enforce sharia law and it often hits the headlines for its harsh punishments.

Last month a court in the capital Banda Aceh caned a non-Muslim couple for gambling. The same court convicted another man and woman for “affectionate contact between an unmarried couple”.

Last year, hundreds packed a courtyard to witness the caning of two men found guilty of having consensual sex. The men were caught together by vigilantes who burst into the house where they were staying, and were later sentenced to 83 strokes of the cane each.

Mr Yusuf claimed that if sharia law was consistently applied, then crime, particularly murder, would decrease significantly or disappear, adding that “relatively mild” punishments meant that murderers could reoffend.

Indonesia already has the death penalty for crimes such as murder or drugs trafficking, which it carries out by firing squad. The last executions were of Nigerian drugs traffickers, in July 2016.

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