"Indonesia is not Europe or America, whose culture and reaction towards nudity
are totally different than ours," he maintained.
Ponti Carrolus, director of PT Velvet Silver Media which holds the Indonesian
license from the US-based magazine, vowed on Friday to go ahead with the launch
of the local version of Playboy despite growing protests.
He argued that the magazine will dramatically tone down the Playboy's erotic
"Pornography, regardless of how it is being disguised, will only corrupt youth
morals and bring catastrophes such as a rise in rape and sexual harassment,"
Indonesia is the most populous Muslim state with a population of 220 million,
80% of them are Muslims.
Founded in 1953, Playboy has about 20 local editions around the world that
cater to local taste rather than simply exporting and translating its US
Irfan Awwas, the chairman of the Indonesian Mujahedin Council, echoed a similar
"It will be disastrous for Indonesia," he told AFP.
"The publication of Playboy as we know it will further destroy the nation's
Muzadi, whose organization claims more than 40 million members, urged the
Indonesian authorities to revoke the license for Playboy and other raunchy
magazines in the country.
"Legalizing Playboy to circulate in Indonesia is tantamount to legalizing
pornography, which is already pretty much uncontrollable due to the circulation
of pirated DVDs and VCDs and the Internet," he said.
Porn discs are readily, if discreetly, available across the capital Jakarta for
as little as 6,000 rupiah ($60 cents).
In recent years, lifestyle magazines have flooded Indonesia's markets,
including those targeting a male audience.
Many are franchises of foreign publications in the United States, Europe,
Australia and more liberal Asian nations.
FHM Indonesia, Sexy, Marta and Popular are but some of the more daring men's
magazines on sale along Jakarta's busy streets.
Many of these titles hit the streets after the wave of liberalization that
swept through Indonesia in 1999 after the fall of Suharto.
Leo Batubara, a senior member of the Indonesian Press Council, said critics
should reserve judgment until they see how Playboy fits into "Indonesia's
modern and acceptable social norms."
His fellow council member R.H. Siregar was also in favor of the magazine's
publication, saying it would be unfair to ban it.
He urged the publisher to "consult religious groups and explain their format
The ongoing debate on Playboy comes as Indonesian lawmakers prepare to pass a
wide-ranging law on pornography.
One of article in the bill stipulates jail terms of up to seven years for "acts
and publication of acts deemed indecent or sexually arousing."
Another legislates a similar jail term for people caught kissing in public or
dancing in "arousing movements."
Batubara said that the council, which has no legal power to revoke licenses but
is often consulted by the parliament to discuss media-related issues, will try
to persuade lawmakers not to include the two articles.
"Lawmakers cannot seem to make up their mind on how to categorize movies,
publications and even our 'dangdut' shows, which do not show full-frontal
nudity but reveal women posing and acting in semi-erotic fashion," he said.
The hugely popular dangdut features traditional Indonesian music with strong
Indian and Arabic influences.
Batubara charged that many lawmakers have no real understanding and knowledge
of what is pornography.
"They just want to issue a law but they do not want to give a damn about its
impact on our socially and culturally complex society."
He said the state body was still arguing with MPs over an "acceptable
Indonesian media standard of what is deemed to be morally accepted and what is