Islamists Hunt Indonesian Playboy Editor

JAKARTA

Islamist extremists were hunting the editor of the defunct Indonesian edition of Playboy magazine on Thursday as police awaited authorisation to imprison him on indecency charges.

More than four years after the short-lived and PG-rated version of the magazine hit Indonesia’s newsstands, editor Erwin Ar-nada said he was not afraid of Islamist vigilantes bent on “arresting” him.

“Criminalisation of the press is a threat to the media and people who dare to speak and to create,” he said via micro-blogging website Twitter.

“Don’t say I’m a fugitive. I’m not a coward.”

Prosecutors have said they are expecting to receive a Supreme Court ruling confirming the editor’s conviction for indecency, three years after a lower court dismissed the charges.

Only two editions of In-donesian Playboy were released in April and May 2006 before the magazine was forced to close because of violent protests from Islamic hardliners.

It featured none of the nudity for which its international versions are famous, had ac-quired the necessary licences, and was sold in sealed bags.

Responding to pressure from religious groups such as the violent Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), prosecutors nevertheless charged the editor and pub-lishers with indecency.

The charges were thrown out of court in 2007, sparking further protests by Islamist extremists. The state took the case to the Supreme Court, which is ex-pected to sentence Arnada to two years in jail.

FPI secretary general Sobri Lubis said the editor was a “moral terrorist” and the group’s stick-wielding militants had been ordered to track him down.

“Before he escapes Indonesia we have to find him. I’ve urged all FPI members and all Muslims to search for him, arrest him immediately and send him to the prosecutor’s office,” he said.

Asked what authority the FPI had to take such action, he said: “We should get involved to help law enforcers. We have to help them to make their job easier. Besides, we’re the moral guardians in this country.”

Hardcore pornography is widely available in Indonesia but the authorities say they are determined to protect public decency and traditional values.

Lawmakers passed a controversial anti-pornography law in 2008 and the com-munications minister has threatened to censor the internet in the mainly Muslim country.

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