In Indonesia’s Aceh, Stricter Islam Followed Tsunami

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia—Devastated a decade ago by the Indian Ocean tsunami, the Indonesian province of Aceh has turned in its recovery to religion and strict Shariah law.

Many Acehnese say the tsunami was a test from God that brought blessings amid the heartbreak: an end to nearly three decades of civil war, the opening of Aceh to the outside world and almost $5 billion in international aid.

The far-reaching changes after the tsunami, which killed an estimated 167,540 people in Indonesia, also made it easier for local leaders to expand the power of religious law, including the public caning of religious offenders. It is the only region in Indonesia where Shariah law is allowed.