The mayor of a town in Indonesia is facing widespread backlash after pushing a regulation to ban female passengers from straddling motorcycles.

Lhokseumawe Mayor Suaidi Yahya says the ban aims to save people's "morals and behaviors," according to the BBC.

Lhokseumawe is located in the province of Aceh, the only Indonesian province that follows Shariah law.

The regulation would force female passengers to ride "side-saddle" to avoid violating Islamic values.

"When you see a woman straddle, she looks like a man.  But if she sits side-saddle, she looks like a woman," Suaidi said.

People across the region have voiced fierce criticism of the regulation.

"We, the women of Lhokseumawe, strongly oppose this very discriminative regulation because it ignores the rights of women in conducting their daily activities," said Safwani, executive director of Ranup Women Institute.

Well-known Muslim activists, like Ulil Abshar Abdalla, also opposed the ban.

"How to ride a motorbike is not regulated in Shariah," Abdalla wrote in a Twitter message. "In a democratic country, what is claimed to be Shariah must be assessed by the public's common sense if the government aims to turn the regulation into law."

Leaflets reportedly have been sent to residents and government offices to inform them of the regulation. Suaidi says once the regulation has become a by-law, there will be sanctions for those who do not follow it.

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