Saturday, November 15, 2008

Protests over Indonesian 'anti-porn' law

Hundreds of people rallied in the Hindu-majority holiday island of Bali against a tough anti-pornography law branded by critics as a threat to religious freedom.

About 400 people marched through the Balinese capital Denpasar in defiance of the law passed by mainly Muslim lawmakers in Jakarta last month.

Protesters denounced as too broad the law's definition of pornography, saying it was a threat to Indonesia's diverse non-Muslim minorities and could shatter national unity.

High-spirited protesters in traditional sarongs and translucent temple blouses marched toward the provincial governor's office, cheering wildly at traditional dances and performances by local pop singers in curve-hugging pants.

The chair of the West Papua provincial parliament, Jimmy Demianus Ijie, said the law passed after years of deliberation in Jakarta criminalised Papuan culture, where many people go semi-naked.

"I've taken part in many Papuan performances in many places and I've only worn traditional clothes, but you could see my arse and I was swaying my hips, I was being sexy. Are they going to arrest me for that too?" he told reporters.

A challenge to the law would be launched in Indonesia's Constitutional Court next week, activist Ngurah Harta told the protest.

"We have to win this judicial review or we will hold a massive civil disobedience campaign," he said.

Bali Governor I Made Mangku Pastika pledged last month that his government would not enforce the pornography bill, but he did not turn up to Saturday's protest.

Muslims make up roughly 90 per cent of Indonesia's 234 million population, which also contains sizeable Christian, Hindu, Buddhist and Confucian minorities.

Source: AAP

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