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Pornography Bill Stirs Controversy in Indonesia

Monday, Sept. 29, 2008

JAKARTA, Indonesia -- Close to 16 million Indonesians are expected to leave the country's cities this week in a mass exodus to their hometowns in order to celebrate Idul Fitri and the end of the Ramadan month. But this year, they will be hitting the roads as a broad national debate over a controversial anti-pornography bill continues to rage from the local communities of Bali to the streets of Jakarta.

Earlier this month, the government announced that it was close to passing legislation that would monitor not only media, but also behavior -- even conversation -- that is seen to violate "the normative values of society." At the time, Mahfudz Siddiq, chairman of the conservative Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), touted the bill's passage as imminent and promised it as a "Ramadan gift" to supporters. But as the month draws to a close, the bill remains stalled. Critics have demanded more deliberation and called the bill a political stunt by government officials who seek to garner support before next year's national elections. ...

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