A turn of phrase can tell us so much – about the journalist who wrote the copy. Take this AP piece published in The Guardian, about the conviction of Indonesian pop star Nazril “Ariel” Irham for “violating the country’s strict anti-pornography law that came into effect in 2008.”
Indonesia, a secular nation of 237 million people, has more Muslims than any other country in the world. Though most are moderate, a small extremist fringe has become more vocal in recent years. They have pushed through controversial laws such as the anti-porn bill and criticised anything they perceive as blasphemous, from transvestites and bars to “deviant” religious sects.
Some of the hundreds of demonstrators who gathered outside the court pelted the police vehicle carrying Ariel to the court with rotten eggs and tomatoes. Others held placards criticising the star. “I have three daughters,” said Kurnia Maryati, a 33-year-old pharmacist, as she straightened out her headscarf.
Is the headscarf Kurnia adjusted meant to indicate she is a member of the “small extremist fringe”? After all, we can be sure that any Muslimah wearing a headscarf is an “extremist”, can’t we?
Apparently, Nazril filmed himself bonking groupies, uploaded the film on to his laptop, and then was stupid enough to allow his laptop to get stolen. Kurnia continues:
“To me, pornography is even more dangerous than drugs. Just think of the schoolboys watching those videos,” she said. “Next thing you know, they’ll be imagining their female teachers naked!”
Actually, Kurnia, schoolboys don’t need porn to imagine their teachers naked. And here lies the problem. The nature of and issues surrounding human sexuality rarely get discussed intelligently, whether by Muslim or non-Muslim. And whilst I can appreciate that some Indonesians might not want their nation to participate in a rather tawdry and demeaning industry that currently grosses the USA some $3 billion annually, I’m far from convinced Nazril’s laptop escapades have anything to do with “porn”.