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    » 10/30/2008, 00.00

    INDONESIA

    The Indonesian parliament adopts anti-pornography bill

    Mathias Hariyadi

    MPs present voted unanimously for the bill. Opposition parties did not however participate in the vote. Dissent explodes in online forums. A Jakarta court sentences an Islamic fundamentalist leader to jail for fomenting clashes last June.
     

    Jakarta (AsiaNews) – With opposition MPs absent, Indonesia’s parliament approved an anti-porn bill that was welcomed by supporters who loudly rejoiced with prayers to Allah. In online newspaper forums many ordinary citizens reacted angrily however, slamming what they consider a step backward for Indonesia and an “obscurantist” decision.

    Today the lower house in Indonesia’s parliament approved the controversial anti-pornography bill, known in Bahasa Indonesia as Undang-undang Pornografi, Uu App. Since it was tabled it has been at the centre of intense discussions because it is seen as a step towards introducing Sharia law into the country’s legal system along the lines of Saudi Arabia.

    In recent weeks human rights activists and representatives of political and religious minorities, including the Catholic Church, have strenuously objected to the law.

    According to its critics, the law eliminates “cultural” differences and undermines “national unity”. As it stands it is all but an attempt by Muslim fundamentalists to introduce Islamic law into the country’s legal system.

    The anti-porn law was approved almost unanimously but MPs for the Indonesian Democracy Struggle Party (PDIP) and the Christian-based Prosperous Peace Party (PDS) were not in the house in protest against the bill.

    A supporter of the new law named Lasmiantini, a member of a group called Salima or Muslim Sisters, felt great about it.

    “Inshallah, God willing, Indonesia shall finally see the rebirth of morality,” she said.

    “We are happy,” she added, “because we won the battle to defend our children and it [the law] will also protect women.”

    “Educational TV programmes” will be promoted “to improve moral values as the basis of society.

    Pro-law activists said that the legislation can be improved to “avoid excesses”, denying at the same time that negative views were expressed “against the bill in some provinces.”

    Meuthia Hatta, daughter of Mohammad Hatta, one of Indonesia’s founding fathers, noted that the law “does not violate the principles of freedom of expression” but instead protects people from the harm done by pornography.

    “Our focus was on this aspect rather than on political squabbles with nationalist groups and NGOs,” said the minister of for Woman Empowerment.

    In the meantime a court in Jakarta issued an important ruling in the fight against Islamic fundamentalism.

    Judge Panusunan Harahap sentenced Habib Rizieq Shihab, head of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), to 18 months in jail for “fomenting clashes in Jakarta last 1 June between radical Muslims and moderates, who were demonstrating in favour of religious freedom in the country.”

    At that time Muslim fundamentalists attacked moderate Muslims from the National Alliance for Religious Freedom (AKKBB), who were peacefully demonstrating in support of the Ahmadis, a small Muslim community (about half a million) who are considered heretical in several Muslim countries like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

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    See also

    04/06/2008 INDONESIA
    More than 50 Islamic Defender Front extremists arrested
    The police is questioning detainees over last 1 June clashes during a pro-religious freedom rally. FPI leader is among those arrested. In East Java young moderate Muslims burn radical group’s flags.

    18/09/2008 INDONESIA
    For Indonesian Church anti-pornography bill threatens national unity
    Laity and Justice and Peace Commissions come out against the proposed legislation because it favours divisions and ethnic conflicts. Proposed law stems from an attempt to introduce Sharia and turn the country into another Saudi Arabia. The bill is opposed by the country’s middle class and cultural elite.

    17/09/2008 INDONESIA
    Indonesia, sharia behind anti-pornography law
    Ethnic minorities and religious groups denounce the attempt to introduce Islamic law. The proposed law, which is not clear and is subject to various interpretations, leaves broad scope for the fundamentalists to repress "popular customs and traditions" that constitute the true "riches of the nation".

    23/09/2016 20:29:00 INDONESIA
    Islamic radicals in Makassar tell Protestant church it does not have the right to a building permit

    Ethnic Toraja attend the parish church. Pastor says it has “proper papers” and saw the mayor visit.



    03/06/2008 INDONESIA
    Young moderate Muslims declare war on extremists
    Following an attack by members of the Islamic Defender Front against Muslims demonstrating in favour of religious freedom, some youth groups say there are ready to join the police against the Front. The government is now weighing its options on whether and how to dissolve the dangerous extremist group.



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