Pornography Bill Stirs Controversy in Indonesia

Pornography Bill Stirs Controversy in Indonesia

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.

Indonesia, as the world's most populous Muslim country, has long been known as a tolerant and pluralistic society. But following the end of Suharto's 32-year rule in 1998, violence -- including riots that targeted Jakarta's Chinese community and local power struggles between Christians and Muslims -- left nearly 1 million Indonesians displaced. In an attempt to govern this pluralistic nation where hundreds of different ethnic and linguistic groups span 17,000 islands, the state ceded a degree of regional autonomy to local governments in 2001.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.

More World Politics Review