Sharia Alert from modern, moderate Indonesia. From AP, with thanks to Jimmy:
Fitri Komalasari has heard of plans by Indonesia’s increasingly vocal Islamic clerics to forbid the watching of celebrity gossip shows.
But she says she can’t imagine life without daily updates on the marital breakdowns, affairs and quarrels of the rich and famous.
“Life without gossip shows would be like vegetables without salt,” said Komalasari, 27, who works at a city bookstore that also sells spicy entertainment news magazines. “I love to watch them. I love gossiping.”
Religious leaders say some programs – like one that disclosed an alleged affair by a son of a former president and another that claimed a famous Olympic-winning athlete had an illegitimate child before marrying – are sinful because they are slanderous or exploit people’s shameful secrets.
The generally moderate group, Nahdlatul Ulama, is considering issuing a fatwa against such shows – another sign, critics say, of the inroads of Islamic conservatism in the world’s most populous Muslim nation, which has a tradition of moderation, tolerance and secularism.
Dozens of local governments across the sprawling archipelago have introduced Islamic regulations – from making it obligatory for women to wear head scarves to banning gambling and alcohol – and national politicians are considering bills to impose jail time for nudity in art, lewd dancing, even kissing in public.
Ma’ruf Amin, the leader of Nahdlatul Ulama, said last week the proposed religious edict, or fatwa, warns that the tens of millions of Indonesians who watch gossip shows “could end up in hell”.
Fatwa in Indonesia are not legal enforceable, and it is unclear how many of the country’s 190 million Muslims would obey it.
Amin said his group also plans to press the government for laws to punish the estimated 40 broadcasters that presently feed on “quarrels between husbands and wives, adultery or people living together outside wedlock”.
Reactions from the gossip television industry so far have been reserved – possibly over fears of being seen as un-Islamic. They have asked for clarification about exactly where the line is.
“This edict has no legal implications, and it only applies to their (NU’s) members,” said Ilham Bintang, who produces eight of the country’s major gossip shows and is widely regarded as the godfather of Indonesia’s decade-old infotainment industry.
“As a Muslim, I agree that the act of disclosing disgraceful things of one’s household should be forbidden,” he said, adding that only a small percentage of his episodes deal with the content in question….
“Gossip is natural,” she said ordering an iced coffee at a city mall. “It’s my right.”