Indonesian Men Flogged for Alleged Gambling as Crowd Snaps Photos

Posted on: October 21, 2019, 09:57h. 

Last updated on: October 21, 2019, 12:03h.

Two Indonesian men suspected of gambling were forcefully caned in public Monday by a police officer who repeatedly struck their backs with a bamboo rod, according to news reports.

A man accused of gambling was caned in Indonesia today, according to news reports. The punishment follows the rules of Sharia law. (Image: AFP)

The well-attended punishment took place in the Banda Aceh province. Local authorities there enforce Sharia law, the Daily Mail reported.

Many onlookers showed up to witness the event. Some of them used cell phones to take photographs or videos of the punishment.

Both suspects were dressed in white robes. They folded their hands as they were whipped, expressing little emotion.

Flogging in public takes place in the region not only for gambling. It is also used against those accused of consuming alcohol or taking part in prohibited forms of sexual relations, such as intimacy before marriage or cuddling in public.

Sometimes, those getting caned have collapsed from the pain. The Daily Mail reported canings are relatively common in the conservative region.

Banda Aceh began using Sharia law after getting its autonomy in 2001. More Sharia practices were adopted in the region in 2005. Other parts of Indonesia would also like to adopt Sharia law.

Usman Hamid, executive director of Amnesty Indonesia, told Al Jazeera, public caning violates two major human rights documents. These are the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment.

More than 90 percent of Indonesia’s 255 million population are believed to be Muslim, the Daily Mail said.

Part of Malaysia Also Has Public Canings

In 2017, Kelatan, a state in Malaysia, began public canings for those who violate Sharia law. Malaysia has separate Sharia law for its majority Muslim population. That means only non-Muslims are permitted to gamble.

Malaysia has only one casino resort, Resorts World Genting. It is operated by homegrown casino giant Genting.

Malaysia is more than 60 percent Muslim in population and its official religion is Islam. The nation has strict laws against gambling, except for the national lottery.

In just the first eight months of 2018, 22,300 people in Malaysia were arrested for gambling over the course of 12,449 raids. The sweeps were conducted on illicit gambling dens and lottery syndicates.

Koran Forbids Gambling

“In general, Muslim countries have a prohibition on any type of gambling. It is forbidden in the Koran,” the Rev. Richard McGowan, a finance professor at Boston College who researches gambling practices, told

He notes there is a casino in Cairo where one needs a foreign passport to enter. In Singapore, the three casinos permit foreigners to enter, while local residents need to pay over $100 to play, he adds.

“I would imagine if you are in a nation with Sharia law, you had best keep any gambling quite secret,” McGowan said. When asked if education could be used as an option to corporal punishment to dissuade gambling in the nation, he said, “If the Koran maintains that all gambling is forbidden and Sharia law is based on the Koran, there is little room for education.”

James P. Whelan, co-director at the University of Memphis’s Institute for Gambling Education and Research, where he also teaches, says public punishment may not prevent others from continuing to gamble.

Generally, punishment works to reinforce the commitment of those who do not already engage in a behavior,” Whelan told “For those who engage in the behavior, punishment typically makes a person fear the punisher rather that fear engaging in the behavior. If the punisher can be avoided, then a person with an engagement history would find a way to engage while trying to avoid the punisher.”

The US has had threats of violence where a self-professed Muslim told police last year he wanted to “take over” and “destroy all casinos,” as he invoked the name of Allah.

The Chicago man had threatened to bomb the Hollywood Casino in Aurora, Illinois last February.