The Aceh province on the north end of Sumatra is a very conservative Muslim area where over 95% of the population practice Islam. Sharia Law, which governs the daily life of Muslims, is not as widely enforced as it was before the tsunami but it still needs to be respected. Because of this there are some “Do’s” and “Don’t” that we must observe as we work in this area.
• Wear discreet clothing covering shoulders and legs below the knees, even when swimming
• Always use your right hand to wave or point at someone or to pass something to others
• In general, address a person by their first name including their title such as “Pak” for men and “Ibu” or “Bu” for women
• If you drink beer or alcohol do it at your residence
• Be patient and polite at all times. Never lose your temper in public for any reason.
• Take off your shoes before entering a house
• Do not wave or point using your left hand. Do not hand over something with your left hand.
• Do not stand with your hands placed on your hips or waist when speaking to a person. Do not stand too close to someone of the opposite sex when talking.
• Do not hug or kiss people of the opposite sex when you meet them (this is really tough on the French!)
• Do not drink alcoholic beverages in public. Do not order food that contains pork. Do not carry around alcoholic beverages on the street.
• Do not schedule meetings during prayer times and allow work to stop during these times, especially on Friday
• Do not distribute reading material or children’s toys containing religious messages
• Do not display religious symbols other than those of Islam in public
• Do not spread views or issues that could be considered religiously offensive to the people of Aceh