Banda Aceh. The Aceh Shariah Police have banned any sales of food at daytime during Ramadan, and that rule also applies to non-Muslims so as not to offend Muslims who are fasting.
Food traders may resume their business from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and they can stay open after tarawih, or nighttime prayers, until dawn, Hardy Karmy, the operational head of the Aceh Shariah police, or Wilayatul Hisbah, told the Jakarta Globe on Thursday.
“They have to respect Muslims who are fasting,” Hardy explained.
The Shariah police have been conducting a crackdown in the past three days to ensure nobody was selling food in the afternoon.
Non-Muslims, though, protested the ban.
“Since today they [the food sellers] are not allowed to sell food even if they had sold food to non-Muslims,” said Kho Khie Siong, head of the Aceh Hakka Foundation, an organization of people of Chinese descent.
He spoke while pointing to an alley, long known as a food center, in Penayong, Banda Aceh, where dozens of Shariah police officers were standing by to clear up the area. Each stall had a signboard that said only non-Muslims would be served.
“We respect those who are fasting, and we also respect the Islamic Shariah in Aceh because we have been living here for generations,” Kho said. “We were born and raised in Aceh. We are also Aceh people,” he added.
Kho said the local government should relax the regulation so that food traders can maintain their business, since it was their livelihood.
"If they are forced to close down the business for the entire month, how are they going to eat?” Kho said.
Kho said the government did not prohibit the food traders from operating their business as usual in previous years, especially in the Chinese community area.
“I don’t know why they have the ban this year,” Kho said, adding that the Chinese community would meet with Banda Aceh Mayor Illiza Sa'aduddin Djamal to discuss the issue.
Erwin, a local resident who lives in the alley, said he hoped the government would remove the policy.
“We’re all non-Muslims here, so I hope the government will give us a little exemption,” he said.