The prohibition of pornography has been a controversial area of law in Indonesia, attracting the attention both of Islamic conservatives and activists promoting freedom of expression. Several public figures have been investigated and prosecuted under questionable circumstances, raising concerns that the law is being applied arbitrarily. Recently, the police investigation of Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab and his female follower Firza Hussein over a leaked salacious Whatsapp chat has put prohibitions of pornography back in the headlines. The case has gained attention both because FPI has been one of the main groups pushing for pornography prosecutions, and because the investigation has been widely perceived as politically motivated, following Rizieq’s role in the protests against former Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama.
Dave McRae is a Senior Research Fellow at the Asia Institute in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Melbourne. He is also an Associate at the Centre for Indonesian Law, Islam and Society.
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