Live Music in Bireuen Aceh is Prohibited and Considered to Cause Lust

In Aceh, there are rules regarding the prohibition of holding live music because it can cause lust. Many women activists said that this could kill youth's creativity and blame women's bodies if left unchecked.

On February 24, 2023, the Regent of Bireuen Aceh issued a Circular Letter (SE) regarding the ban on live music. The circular is addressed to owners of cafes, hotels, restaurants, and managers of other entertainment venues there. 

The SE reference is based on the Fatwa of the Aceh Ulama Consultative Assembly (MPU) No. 12 of 2013. It concerning Other Entertainment and Cultural Arts in the View of Islamic Sharia. There are 11 points of prohibition regarding the implementation of live music

Some of the points of the prohibition are poets and singers not making excessive movements or can cause lust. The prohibition of mixing men and women who are not mahrams. The ban on violating “nature” according to gender, the prohibition of poets and singers being watched live by opponents non-mahram type. 

It is not clear what kind of musical movements arouse lust. It is clear that this condition can blame the body, especially women’s bodies, for being considered arousing lust.

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A young female activist in Aceh, Khalida Zia, assesses that the SE has the potential to limit creativity, including young people, in art. If anything is prohibited, creativity is not only confined but can also be lost. 

“After a while, it becomes uncreative because there are more restrictions than allowed. This decision does not provide space for creative activists, cafe owners, artists, and other artists,” Khalida Zia told, Wednesday (1/3). 

The Executive Director of The Leader, an association of young people in Aceh, said that this circular seems to only be concerned with the interests of the majority group.

“Do creative workers agree? Does the cafe owner agree? Does the parking attendant who works in a cafe whose deposits are now managed by the regional government agree? Obviously not, because this will be detrimental to them,” he said. 

Zia also criticized the implementation of this circular, which seemed to be forced. He considered the performance to be ambiguous and unclear. On the one hand, the SE was issued with reference to the Aceh MPU Fatwa, but in practice, it needed to be concrete. 

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For example, the day after the SE was held, there was a cafe where there was still live music without disbanding. In fact, until 11 pm local time, the live music uses bass, guitar, piano, and drums. 

“Is the circular letter ready to be implemented? If the SE is only made and does not think about the consequences of implementing it, then it will increase public distrust of the government,” he continued. 

Previously, Zia revealed the Bireuen Regency Government had also issued an appeal for the standardization of coffee shops, cafes, and restaurants. It contains 14 points of prohibition and standardization of coffee shops, cafes, and restaurants according to Islamic Sharia on August 30, 2018. 

“However, other than socialization by posting the regulation in coffee shops and restaurants, I have found no concrete steps regarding this issue. So it’s just a warning,” he said. 

He conveyed that the Acting Governor of Aceh Nova Iriansyah, represented by the Regent of Bireuen Muzakkar A Gani. Declared Bireuen a City of Santri, the reason that Bireuen is an area with the most Islamic boarding schools, namely 154 Islamic boarding schools with a total of 51,980 students.

“The banning of live music is also an imposition of the government’s desire to run Bireuen as a city of students,” he added. 

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Meanwhile, to, the Head of the Bireuen Islamic Sharia Service, Anwar, said that live music in cafes is not following Islamic law.

Live music in cafes disturbs people’s comfort and is not following Islamic law in force in Aceh,” Anwar told when confirmed on Thursday (2/3).

He added that the basis for issuing the Regent’s SE was the MPU’s fatwa and public complaints. Because of this, live music in cafes is possible as long as it is within limits set by the MPU fatwa, for example, if the visitor is a mahram.

“Actually, if the live music was adjusted to the MPU fatwa. It could be made. The MPU fatwa was long ago, in 2013,” he said.

He mentioned the basis for issuing the Regent’s SE from the MPU fatwa and public complaints. “In fact, there are cafes that complain to us. Because there is live music at a neighboring cafe, their customers feel disturbed,” he said.

“It’s okay to be creative. As long as it doesn’t violate the MPU fatwa,” he added.

Bireuen District Government Claims: Efforts to Reduce Violations of Islamic Shari’a

Previously, a press release received by informed that several related agencies. It had directly socialized after the issuance of the Bireuen Regent’s Circular regarding the ban on live music. They visited several cafes on Jalan Elak Bireuen, Peusangan, on Sunday night (26/2). 

This socialization activity was also a live music inspection led by the Islamic Sharia Office, Anwar, and the Head of Satpol PP. The Secretary of the MPU, Keuchik Gampong Cot Gapu M. Nasir, and several community leaders from around Bireuen also attended. The 30 personnel arrived at the location around 22.15 WIB to 00.20 WIB. 

Several night coffee connoisseurs said they panicked at the unusual movement of personnel at night. The cafe owners were met in the spontaneous activity. 

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The Head of the Bireuen Islamic Sharia Office, Anwar or Cek Wan, said that such collaborative activities of various parties would continue to be carried out in the future. 

“To reduce the tension of violations of Islamic law that occur in open places such as cafes,” said Anwar. 

According to him, the recent growth of cafes in Bireuen Regency has been increasing. In the city of Bireuen alone, there are at least 28 cafes. 

“Viewed from the economic growth sector, this is quite positive. But don’t be too free to violate Islamic law and (cause-ed) discomfort to the local community,” he said. 

Anwar claims that lately, there have been lots of good reports from the public that have been submitted to his side. Even those delivered directly to the Pj. Bireuen Regent Aulia Sofyan. 

“The report referred to violations of Islamic law. Such as online gambling, live music, and many non-mahram cafe customers late into the night. Some disturb the comfort of the neighborhood community. Because almost all of the cafes are located in community settlement areas,” added Anwar. 

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The Keuchik of Cot Gapu M.Nasir also complained that the sound of music in cafes at high volume until late at night. Because it was disturbing to the comfort of people’s rest. “I’m sorry for the parents, school children, study halls, and recitation activities at the mosque are very disturbed,” he said.  

The Keuchik of Cot Gapu, who came with an entourage from the Bireuen Regency Government. Hoped that the cafe owner would stop all music activities in the cafe. 

“Please, ladies and gentlemen who own the cafe. We don’t forbid you to make a living in our village, but please don’t turn on the music at high volume and take care of the local wisdom of the Islamic gampong,” he added

In response, Khalida Zia from The Leader said that the issue of Sharia enforcement in Aceh is often made into a political issue, which tends to be forced. In fact, there are still many other issues regarding welfare and community development that should be considered. 

“Development issues, Aceh education issues have never been good. When they take office, all governments must make a scene about fatwas like this,” he concluded.

(Translated by Marina Nasution)

Nurul Nur Azizah

Bertahun-tahun jadi jurnalis ekonomi-bisnis, kini sedang belajar mengikuti panggilan jiwanya terkait isu perempuan dan minoritas. Penyuka story telling dan dengerin suara hujan-kodok-jangkrik saat overthinking malam-malam.

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