- The Washington Times - Monday, May 27, 2013

A women’s rights group is outraged over a recent move by North Aceh’s district head to ban women from dancing in public, the Jakarta Globe reports.

District Chief Muhammad Thaib on Saturday said that in order to comply with sharia law he had banned all women from dancing when welcoming tourists, adding that only young children should perform the tradition, the Jakarta Globe reports.

“I’m very glad to welcome our guests with Aceh culture,” Thaib said, according to a local magazine. “But cultural preservation should not damage Islamic Shariah values, such as dancing performed by adult women.”

Masruchah, deputy chair of the National Commission on Violence Against Women, told the Jakarta Globe that the ban violates women’s rights to freedom of expression.

“Indonesia upholds the constitution, and it guarantees all citizens the right to express themselves, including in dancing,” Masruchah said. “Dancing is apart of Indonesian culture to show people the local tradition. It should not be linked to someone’s opinion about Islam. Islam indeed supports art and the right to express.”

“The interpretation to body movements, whether done by children or adults, lies in the heads of men,” Masruchah added. “Why should women be blamed if men easily get aroused?”

The North Aceh Ulema Consultative Assembly supports the ban, calling the move a positive innovation, the Jakarta Globe reports.