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Indonesia upholds anti-pornography bill

By Karishma Vaswani
BBC News, Jakarta

A protest against the anti-pornography bill in Denpassar, Bali - 23/09/2008
The law sparked protests when it was passed in 2008

Indonesia's constitutional court has upheld a controversial anti-pornography law, disappointing activists and cultural groups who had challenged it.

The court said that the law's definition of pornography was clear and did not violate the constitution.

The law was passed in 2008 and heavily backed by Islamic parties who helped to draft it.

But it was opposed by minority groups who say it goes against Indonesia's tradition of diversity and pluralism.

The anti-pornography law was passed with an overwhelming majority in the Indonesian parliament.

But it has been seen by minority groups as a step towards strict Islamic law, stifling religious and artistic freedom.

Clear definition

Women's groups and representatives from some of Indonesia's cultural associations challenged the law in the constitutional court.

They argued that the definition of pornography under the law was too broad and targeted cultural and traditional performances as well as discriminating against women.

But the constitutional court ruled that the law was not biased and that the definition of pornography was clear and would stay as it is.

Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim nation - more than 80% of the population is Muslim.

Other religions are also recognised under Indonesian law, because the constitution is secular.

But critics of the anti-pornography law fear that Indonesia may be sliding towards Islamic extremism - and that is why they are so firmly against it.



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