On September 5, Bireuen district local authorities issued a new regulation banning men and women from dining together unless they are married or related. Under this new Islamic regulation, women in Bireuen district will not be allowed to share a table with men at restaurants and coffee shops unless accompanied by their husband or a close male relative. In the same context, co-workers on their lunch pause are also forbidden from sharing their meal.
Aceh (5 million inhabitants; capital Banda Aceh) is an Indonesian province located at the northern end of Sumatra. It is the only region of Indonesia - the world's most populous Muslim majority country - imposing strict Islamic law. In the recent past, it has drawn criticisms for putting moral restrictions on women. Severe restrictive measures in daily life have already led to repeated international criticism of the Aceh authorities in the past.
Individuals visiting Aceh province - an area where Sharia law is in force should be aware that there have been reports of Shari'a (religious) police harassing foreigners. Be careful not to offend local religious sensitivities.
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