Over 60 punks in Aceh, Indonesia’s strictest Muslim province, are currently being detained in a remedial school for “re-education” after having their Mohawk haircuts shaved off and their piercings and jewellery stripped off at a gig on Saturday, 10 December.
Indonesia is a secular but still predominantly Muslim nation of 240 million people. Aceh has the highest proportion of Muslims who follow Sharia law. The native punk community has complained about harassment for months due to their perceived threat to Islamic values.
This event is seen as the latest effort by authorities to promote the strict moral values of the region. It’s not the first time it’s happened, but it’s by far the most dramatic. Claims were made that the concertgoers were bothering locals but, tellingly, no arrests were made.
The young music fans will be returned to their parents – having arrived in Aceh from a variety of islands across the Indonesian archipelago – after at least ten days in the school, in hills 30 miles from the capital, Banda Aceh, having completed a boot camp of sorts, which will include religious readings.
The punks are obviously scared, mortified and have been violated and various civil rights groups are up in arms, but ultimately there is nothing we can do. This is a clear breach of civil rights and while we can look at it and know that Indonesian way of life is a million miles away from the liberal society that we’ve grown up with, is this persecution any different to what the Daily Mail did in 2008 regarding My Chemical Romance fans?
Punks and metallers are seen as The Other. The mainstream populace – however fucked up it may be itself – always has and always will fear The Other. We always get the blame! Marilyn Manson was blamed for Columbine. Slayer did not cause Elyse Pahler’s rape and murder.
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Go to the Washington Post for more details about the incident and a photo gallery.