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Islamist creep in Indonesia JAKARTA - When Indonesia passed a strict anti-pornography bill in 2008, many feared radical Islamic groups would use it to impose their values on the public at large. If the case currently hitting the headlines is any indication, they were right.

On Wednesday police charged 28-year-old pop star Nazril "Ariel" Irham with the production and distribution of pornographic tapes he allegedly made with Luna Maya, his girlfriend, and Cut Tari, a television presenter who was married at the time. All three have denied they are on the tape, which was allegedly made in 2006.

There are several glaring problems with the case, the most prominent of which is that the anti-pornography law isn't retroactive. Nor have the police produced any evidence that Mr. Irham disseminated the videos or had the intent to do so. The law excludes production for private consumption, which is meant to draw a strict line between the home and the public square.

Yet none of this matters for radical Islamists who see the law as a vehicle to impose their views. Vigilante mobs have threatened the two female celebrities involved in the scandal; police detained them on Wednesday, allegedly for their safety. Police have also raided Internet cafes and searched schoolchildren's mobile phones for copies of the videos.

Minister of Communication and Information Technology Tifatul Sembiring, a member of the Islamic Prosperous and Justice Party, wants to go further and have the government install filtering programs in all Internet cafes and schools. He also wants to ban the provision of online gambling services and the spreading of religious hatred, threats and any "misleading" news. This is the same logic China uses to excuse its Internet censorship and restrict political speech.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is no authoritarian, but he is instinctively socially conservative and has stood by as Islamic groups have attacked minorities such as the Ahmadiyya Muslims and agitated for curbs on free speech. Last week he seemed to throw his support behind the police's actions when he said Indonesia shouldn't be "steamrolled by an information technology frenzy, as the stakes are huge."

Indonesia is a young democracy and still trying to define what kind of country it wants to be. Allowing Islamists to blur the lines between the private and public spheres, by law or force, doesn't bode well for its future.


Related blog entries (category 'Politics') Related blog entries (category 'Politics'):
18 June 2010 · Idiot as minister: 'Internet a risk to nation'
12 June 2010 · Minister against sex education in schools
06 June 2010 · Obama cancels visit to Indonesia - again
02 June 2010 · Indonesian citizenship for former GAM leader
30 May 2010 · Obama to arrive in Indonesia on June 14
22 May 2010 · Obama still plans to travel to Indonesia soon

Related blog entries (category 'Politics') Tags: Islamism, Indonesia, president, porn, video


Posted in Politics @ 25 June 2010 05:16 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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