View Point: In heaven and on earth: Breasts and thighs
Julia Suryakusuma ,  Jakarta   |  Wed, 10/22/2008 10:46 AM  |  Opinion 

Surfing the net last week, I stumbled across the reason why so many Muslim 
terrorists are not afraid to die, long to be syahid and are willing to end it 
all in a homicidal suicide-bombing: Turns out they may just be sexually 
repressed lads desperate for a bit of nookie! 

At least this was the only conclusion I could reach after watching a kooky 
video by Saudi cleric Omar Al-Sweilem. In the clip, he passionately extolled 
the breasts and thighs of the 72 black-eyed virgins promised to martyrs who 
make it to paradise ( "Praised be He 
who created night and day. What hair! What a chest! What a mouth! What cheeks! 
What a figure! What breasts! What thighs! What legs! What whiteness! What 

It seems good ol' Omar has got postmortem sex worked out in detail, right down 
to the last grope and squeeze. 

"When they see you, they will push you onto your back, on (the) musk cushion 
... place her mouth on yours. Do whatever you want. Another one would press her 
cheek against yours, yet another would press her chest against yours, and the 
others would await their turn ... one black-eyed virgin would give you a glass 
of wine as a reward for your good deeds. The wine of this world is destructive, 
but not the wine of the world to come." 

Yes, Omar's message to the faithful is clear: It's perfectly all right to enjoy 
sensuous joys and erotic sexual pleasures -- including group sex and drunken 
orgies -- just so long as you're dead. 

Omar's ravings also led me to realize that for his paradise to be appealing to 
naive, young, would-be terrorists wanting to get it on in the afterlife, there 
naturally has to be a contrasting prudish moral culture of sexual denial here 
on earth. Otherwise, why bother waiting for heavenly hookers? And that must 
partly explain why right-wing, conservative Muslims are so keen on strict moral 
laws banning all the enjoyable things in life. 

And perhaps it provides an explanation for why conservative Muslim groups in 
Indonesia (like PKS) are so keen on their Pornography Bill being passed. 
Building on the success of their shariahization-by-stealth strategy, these 
groups have successfully introduced ultra-conservative Perda (regional 
regulations) across the archipelago. 

The first draft of this bill emerged 10 years ago but public protest saw it 
repeatedly rewritten under the parliamentary oversight of a special committee 
(Pansus) headed by Balkan Kaplale. He now assures us that the latest version of 
the bill has taken into consideration all the original objections, especially 
by watering down over-regulation of clothing and the prohibition of pornoaksi 
(pornographic actions). These provisions would have banned sensual or sexually 
provocative movements, turning dangdut singers and their gyrating hips, pouting 
lips and suggestive lyrics into criminals. 

Despite Kaplale's claims, massive protests against the bill continue, including 
recently in Bali, so I thought I'd better take a closer look at the revised 
bill. And you know what? Kaplale is dead wrong. The bill remains exactly the 
type of measure Omar Al-Sweilem would endorse. 

The problem first off is the basic definition of "pornography" in Article 1: 
"sexual material" -- visual, written, auditory, verbal, movements -- made by 
humans that arouses sexual desire and offends moral values. 

Whose desire? Whose morals? This is way too vague, subjective and unpredictable 
-- and therefore dangerous. 

The definition is too general because the way it works is to ban everything and 
then create exceptions. Trouble is, these are hopelessly vague too. Article 14, 
for example, exempts "art and culture; traditional customs; and traditional 
rituals" but leaves them undefined. What is "art" and what is "culture"? After 
all, pornography may be tasteless and not to everyone's liking, but it's part 
of human culture nevertheless. And where is the boundary between "art" and 
"pornography" anyway? In which category would Michelangelo's "David" fall? Or 
the musical Hair? Or this column? 

Articles 18 and 19 are also a worry. These give local governments authority to 
block Internet sites. This can't be for real? With constant reports of bribery 
and incompetence at the district level, do we really want local politicians 
deciding what websites we can and cannot access? And who will coordinate it? 
Sounds like online anarchy or a corrupt person's wet dream to me! 

Then there are Articles 21 and 22, which allow the public to report, press 
charges, "socialize" people about the law and conduct pembinaan (supervision, 
support). These articles might as well be titled the "Defend Thuggery" clause! 
You can bet fundamentalist Muslim groups who smash up bars and hotels will rely 
on these clauses to justify their violent, criminal brand of vigilantism. 

Yes, there is no doubt that something has to be done to combat our 
out-of-control pornography industry, which has earned us the dubious honor of 
being the world's No. 2 "porno heaven" (after Russia). But isn't the obvious 
solution just to give the existing law on pornography some Viagra: make it nice 
and strong so it works properly! As it stands now, the penalty under the 
Criminal Code (KUHP) is a joke -- 18 months' imprisonment, max, and a fine of 
just Rp 4,500 (less than 50 US cents). 

Surely toughening up the existing law and enforcing it is easier than arguing 
over a new one that is vague, poorly drafted and causing massive unrest. And it 
would mean we wouldn't have to pander to the juvenile, neurotic hang-ups about 
sex generated by the hard right of our Muslim world. When will PKS and other 
home-grown Islamist parties accept that, unlike Omar Al-Sweilem, most 
Indonesians don't want to live in a Wahhabi-inspired world that it is so 
repressed and devoid of sensuality that dying seems more attractive? 

And take note SBY: Even if there is an election coming, getting some spine and 
saying no to this kind of moral panic would let your government focus on more 
real and urgent issues in the here and now: poor leadership, a weak and corrupt 
public sector, low foreign investment, deteriorating health and education 
sectors, unemployment, poverty, etc. 

So, sorry, Pak Kaplale, that all means dispatching this sloppy, dangerous 
anti-pornography bill of yours to its own afterlife as quickly as possible. 

The writer is the author of Sex, Power and Nation. She can be contacted at 

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