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Old 04-08-2006, 03:22 PM   #1
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Playboy selling like hotcakes in Muslim Indonesia

Local version of Playboy snapped up in Muslim Indonesia
Saturday, April 8, 2006

JAKARTA - The Associated Press

Indonesian buyers snapped up Playboy's first-ever edition in a Muslim country on Friday, defying calls from religious leaders and at least two government ministers for the toned-down version of the magazine to be banned.

One reader said he would never buy it again -- but not because he was disgusted at its contents.

"It is too soft, no good at all," said Indra, a worker at foreign mining company who only gave a single name. "I thought it was going to be like the magazines in Europe and America."

The first copy of the magazine in Indonesia featured photos of female models in under garments -- tamer than the U.S. issues of more than 50 years ago and less risque than other magazines aimed at men already for sale in the country.

Islamic leaders called for the magazine to stop publishing, but there were no large scale protests. One small hardline group with a history of organizing violent demonstrations said it would give the magazine one week to close.

"The magazine has no goodwill and is threatening the very life of our nation," said Usman Alwi, from the Islamic Defenders Front. "If it does not shut within one week, we are prepared to launch a physical war against it," he said, without elaborating.

Playboy, which already has 20 international editions with content tailored to local tastes, has been seeking new markets in Asia. Apart from Japan, all are in South America or Europe. It plans to launch in India soon.

The magazine played down the threat of protests.

"Let the people look at it and see what they think, hopefully they will accept it," said promotion manager Avianto Nugroho. "If there are demonstrations, we will try to meet their demands."

The outcry is unlikely to worry Playboy too much, so long as protests remain small and peaceful, and it may even benefit from the publicity.

Unlike in the Middle East, protests in Indonesia against the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in Western newspapers earlier this year attracted only a few hundred people at a time and were short-lived.

At least two government ministers from Islamic parties said they wanted the magazine banned, but acknowledged there were no laws preventing it from publishing.

"From the name alone, it should be banned. It is provocative," said minister of youth and sports, Adhyaksa Dault.

Most Indonesians practice a moderate form of Islam, and many women shun standard Middle Eastern forms of dress associated with Muslims. Parties wanting to impose Islamic Shariah law in the secular nation receive little support.

Magazine vendor Hastu said he had sold 12 copies of the magazine within four hours.

"Let the protesters protest, I am only the seller," said Hastu, who hawks magazines to motorists at traffic junctions. Others reported brisk sales.

Several vendors told The Associated Press that they had sold out of copies, and media reports said it was hard to get a copy of the magazine in Jakarta by midafternoon.

Muslim opposition to the magazine comes despite the fact that Indonesian versions of Western magazines FHM and Maxim, which also contain photos of women in underwear, have been on sale for several years with no outcry.

Local tabloids feature more explicit photos and stories, while pornographic VCDs, though illegal, are sold more or less openly at markets all over the country. Internet cafes are often packed with schoolchildren and adults accessing sexually explicit material.

The magazine costs about US$5 (3.5 euros), more than twice the minimum daily wage in Jakarta, but affordable to many middle- and upper-class city dwellers.

As well as photos of women, the first edition includes an interview with internationally renowned Indonesian author Pramoedya Ananta Toer, and an article on East Timor after its break from Jakarta-rule in 1999.
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