News of two gay men being publicly whipped in the Indonesian city of Banda Aceh has sparked concerns that Indonesia’s long-vaunted "tolerant" Islam is turning fundamentalist. Islam in Indonesia is in a process of change, and a more fundamentalist version of the faith is increasingly prominent. The "Aceh whippings", however, might be misleading.

Aceh was the first place in the south-east Asian archipelago to receive Islam, and the province is colloquially known as "Mecca’s veranda". However, until relatively recently, while Acehnese Muslims were devout, they were far from fundamentalist in their outlook.