Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Hundreds of police with water cannon were deployed Thursday as an Indonesia court prepared to rule whether the editor of the local version of Playboy was guilty of publishing indecent material.
About 100 militant Muslims were on hand for the verdict, shouting "God is great!" and vowing "judgement our way" if Erwin Arnada was acquitted.
Prosecutors have called for Arnada, 42, to be jailed for two years in a case seen as pitting press freedom against conservative Islamic mores in the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation.
Heru Hendratmoko, the chairman of the Alliance of Independent Journalists, said he hoped Arnada would be let go in the interest of press freedom.
"I am fairly optimistic," he said, adding that the editor should not have been subjected to a criminal trial.
But the hardline Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) warned it would "declare war" against the adult magazine, which is still being published in Indonesia, if the court in Jakarta failed to jail Arnada.
"We will attack the Playboy office and sweep up copies of the magazine, which will destroy the morals of Indonesian children," Irwan Asidi, one of the Front's leaders, told AFP.
Ahead of the verdict he had said about 1,000 like-minded Muslims would be mobilised to the court for the verdict, but late Thursday morning only about 100 were present.
About 20 FPI members were inside the courtroom itself as a panel of judges began reading the verdict.
"Playboy destroyed the mentality of the Indonesian generation. We have to fight against them. Islam not only protects Muslim followers but also non-Muslim," FPI member Abdul Khodir said.
"We are going to do judgement our way," if the editor is acquitted, said Muhammad al Khaththath, the secretary general of Forum Umat Islam, an umbrella group containing FPI and other hardline organisations.
Local police chief Donny Sabardi said 665 police officers had been mobilised, including members of a paramilitary brigade who arrived with water cannon.
Arnada's lawyer Ina Rachman said she hoped the court would rule objectively despite the protests.
"I hope the judges will take a decision independently and free from third-party influences. We all know that the FPI has threatened all parties, including the judges and myself," she told AFP.
Prosecutors said Arnada had upset society and damaged Indonesia's morals.
The charge of publishing indecent material carries a jail term of up to 32 months.
Arnada has argued that Playboy Indonesia does not publish photographs of naked women or do anything illegal. (*)
Antara - 04/05/07 11:57
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