Sentence for Sex Tape
Indonesia Pop Star Given 3½ Years Under Anti-Porn Law
JAKARTA—One of Indonesia's pop stars was sentenced to prison Monday for
making sex tapes that triggered a national outcry and a public 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.
A court in Bandung, the capital of West Java, where Mr. Irham resides,
said the trial proved it was Mr. Irham in the videos. It rejected the
argument that the videos had been stolen and released without Mr.
Irham's permission, saying he hadn't done enough to stop their
distribution—violating the strict anti-pornography law that went into
effect three years ago.
A lawyer for Mr. Irham said he would appeal the ruling, local media reported.
The case became a sensation in Indonesia and underscored the continuing
tension between its many moderate Muslim residents and an influential
core of conservative residents who feel the country is becoming too
secular, especially with the spread of the Internet.
Hundreds of Islamic hard-liners protested near the court on Monday,
saying the sentence wasn't harsh enough. Other Indonesians, though,
including human-rights activists, called the sentence heavy-handed and
said it showed how courts can be bullied by a radical minority.
"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
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.
In 2010, the editor in chief of Playboy Indonesia started a two-year prison term for publishing pictures of scantily clad women.
Many analysts have argued that the influence of conservative Islamic
groups has waned in recent years under the leadership of President
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who has emphasized the country's emergence as a
rising economic power and its desire to attract more foreign
investment. But the continued debates over whether to limit some
Internet searches and otherwise restrict behavior linked to looser
morals indicates that conservative factions are still powerful, they