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Thousands of Balinese Protest Against Anti-porn Bill

by VR Sreeraman on September 17, 2008 at 6:58 PM
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 Thousands of Balinese Protest Against Anti-porn Bill

Thousands of Balinese in traditional outfits rallied on the Indonesian holiday island Wednesday against an anti-pornography bill derided by critics as a threat to local cultures.

More than 5,000 protesters occupied the lawn of the local parliament on the mostly Hindu island to oppose the bill, which is under deliberation by mostly Muslim lawmakers in the capital Jakarta.


The bill, which could be passed in a matter of weeks, criminalises all public acts and material capable of raising sexual desires or violating "community morality".

Protesters denounced the proposed law as too broad and a threat to local customs on the island, where naked temple statues proliferate and skimpily dressed foreign tourists unwind on famous beaches.

Demonstrators turned up to the rally in traditional clothes including semi-translucent temple blouses, saying such clothes could be deemed too suggestive if the law was passed.

"Balinese and other ethnic groups have a different view on what sexual or pornographic materials are," local intellectual Wayan Sayoga said.

"We can view nudity without being trapped by lust because we look at it from an aesthetical perspective," he said.

Protesters put on traditional dances and one activist read out a poem that repeated the word "genital" to prove the mention of sex would not send the crowd into fits of lust.

"The government should never forget that Indonesia is a country based on non-discrimination over race, religion and ethnicity," acitivist Luh Anggraeni said.

"This porn bill is a serious threat to the country's unity since it disrespects the perspective of others on many things."

The bill, which is being pushed by Muslim parties in Jakarta, is being challenged on other islands in the archipelago nation which encompasses cultures ranging from conservative Islam to semi-naked animist tribesmen.

Although it is the world's largest Muslim-majority country, Indonesia has significant and officially recognised minorities of Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and Confucians.

Source: AFP
SRM

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