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When you ask Acehnese people what they think of the way Syariah law is interpreted and applied in Aceh, you'll get many opinions. Working for a local NGO (Forum Bangun Aceh) in Banda Aceh for five months, I had a chance to hear the richly-textured thoughts and feelings of many Acehnese people about syariah law that has been implemented since 2003 in their homeland.

As for me, I knew nothing about syariah Islam, beyond the fact that it was in place in Aceh and I was entering a very devout society.

Syariah law itself literally means "the path to a watering hole," it is an ethical, moral and legal framework of rulings on everyday life, including the act of worship and all human interaction and transaction.

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