JAKARTA, Indonesia—The Muslim-majority secular nation of Indonesia is in the grip of celebrity sex tape fever, and the fallout could not only spell jail time for the performers but also the resurrection of a plan to filter the internet that was abandoned earlier this year. Even worse, local Islamist groups have threatened to take matters into their own hands if the government does not act soon.
“Since early June, videos allegedly showing the pop singer Nazril Irham (pictured), popularly known as Ariel, having sex with his actress girlfriend, Luna Maya (pictured), and a married television presenter, Cut Tari, have spread rapidly across the country via social networking sites, cell phones and pirated DVDs,” reported The New York Times.
Two videos have thus far been leaked, one approximately six minutes in length apparently showing Irham in bed with current girlfriend Maya, and the other about eight minutes in length reportedly showing Ariel having sex with ex-girlfriend Tari. Both women have claimed that it is not them in the videos, but news outlets report that the police have called all three alleged participants in for questioning.
Worse for Ariel is the increasing speculation that there are many more such tapes out there, waiting to be released into cyberspace. Local media has reported that the videos made their way onto the internet after Ariel’s laptop was stolen, but that has yet to be confirmed.
According to the Associated Press, “As the tapes were downloaded onto Facebook and YouTube (they have since been removed by the sites' administrator) and distributed from mobile phone to mobile phone, the country tottered on the verge of sexual hysteria.”
It has also been reported that the police have staged raids on internet cafes and schools in an effort to suppress the spread of the videos via mobile phones. Reaction by corporate sponsors has been even swifter. Unilever and Sharp have reportedly already dropped the stars, and Maya no longer hosts a popular Indonesian music television show.
Legally, a 2008 anti-pornography law could send the video participants to jail for up to 12 years, but Information Minister Tifatul Sembiring, a member of the Islamic Prosperous Justice Party that pushed the 2008 anti-pornography law through Parliament, told the Times that he did not think anyone would be charged for making the videos, “but that those involved in one video could be charged under provisions in the criminal code banning adultery.”
Sembiring also renewed an earlier call for content controls on the internet, and wasted no time in ordering teams to deploy firewalls in more than 2,000 Internet cafes around the country in what he dramatically referred to as a "race against time."
But the threats do not just come from the government. Habib Salim, head of the militant Islamic Defenders Front, told The Jakarta Globe website that his followers are prepared to act.
"If the police cannot arrest Ariel, Luna and Cut Tari within three days, we are going to raid places that sell porn videos in Jakarta," he said, adding, "Porn actors and actresses are another form of terrorism. This is moral terrorism. We have to save the citizens from any harm that will degrade our morality."