Monday, January 31, 2011


One of Indonesia's top pop stars was sentenced to prison Monday for making sex tapes that triggered a national outcry and debate about morals when they were leaked onto the Internet last year.

The 29-year-old Nazril Irham—lead singer of a popular band called Peterpan and known to his fans and friends by the nickname "Ariel"—was sentenced to 3½ years in jail and fined $28,000 for two blurry, homemade sex videos seen by Internet users across Indonesia, the world's most-populous Muslim-majority nation. One video shows him and his current girlfriend, a well-known actress. The other shows him with a former girlfriend, also an actress
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Indonesian pop star Nazril Ariel being escorted to court by police and prosecutors before his trial on Jan. 31

A Pop Star Shocks Indonesia

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"The whole legal process began with public pressure in the name of religion and morality," said Hendardi, the chairman of the Setara Institute, a human-rights organization in Jakarta. "The legal system bowed to public pressure, even though the public opinion it was responding to does not really represent the majority" of Indonesians, said Mr. Hendardi, who like many Indonesians uses only one name.

While Indonesia has more Muslims than any other country, the Southeast Asian nation of 240 million has long been seen as moderate and largely secular. A small but vocal—and sometimes violent—minority has at times sought to impose its will, serving as a sort of moral police for the country.
Islamist terrorists, meanwhile, have launched attacks on Western targets, including the popular beach resort of Bali and five-star hotels in the capital city of Jakarta.

The frequent public demonstrations of some conservative Muslims against what they see as Western influences in Indonesia and their support of new laws—such as the pornography prohibition and various local government initiatives to restrict gambling, the use of alcohol and other activities frowned upon by more religious residents—have brought them occasional victories with local governments and in courts, parliament and other public offices.

Indonesia's Communications and Information Minister Tifatul Sembiring, a member of the country's Islamic PKS party, threatened to shut down Indonesia's Blackberry services if the Canadian company behind the telephone, email and instant-messaging device, Research in Motion Ltd., failed to block pornographic sites. Research in Motion agreed to oblige earlier this month.
Bay Ismoyo/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
Indonesian rock star Nazril Ariel waiting for his trial on Jan. 31
Source: Wall Street Journal, Jan 31, 2011
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