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Jakarta police want Playboy to put off next issue

Written by: Staff
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JAKARTA, Apr 13 (Reuters) Jakarta's police chief said today that the Indonesia publishers of Playboy magazine should put off their next issue after attacks on their offices.

About 300 hardline Islamists vandalised the building housing Playboy's offices yesterday in a protest against its publication in the world's most-populous Muslim nation.

The protesters threw rocks at the front lobby, breaking windows of the building in the south of Jakarta several days after the magazine hit Indonesian news-stands for the first time.

Police made some efforts to stop the attackers but did not arrest anyone.

''It would be better if there were a deal to postpone the second edition,'' Jakarta police chief Firman Gani told reporters.

He said he planned to ask the publishers to meet with police to discuss the matter, but would appeal to higher authorities for support of a postponement if Playboy did not voluntarily comply.

The postponement would allow police time to investigate whether Playboy's first issue had violated any laws, Gani said.

Protesters showed up at the building today as well, but in smaller numbers and without any incidents of violence.

They included women and children, while yesterday's violent demonstrators were exclusively male.

A building manager told reporters that Playboy had actually already vacated its offices on the premises, moving out overnight, and showed journalists the emptied space.

Despite widespread controversy, most observers say Indonesia Playboy's first issue, which bared little more flesh than newspaper lingerie ads, went no further -- or if anything was tamer -- than foreign and domestic competitors already commonly on sale in Indonesia.

Asked why those magazines were not being asked to pull their issues, Gani said that steps would be taken if they also ''caused public restlessness''.

However, a speaker at today's anti-Playboy demonstration said protesters would act themselves to ''sweep'' other magazines they consider pornographic off the shelves.

Members of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), the hardline group that organised the earlier demonstration that turned violent, are known for taking the law into their own hands, for example by attacking massage parlours, and bars selling alcohol during the Muslim fasting period.

In February, they beat on the US embassy gate in Jakarta with sticks and pelted the embassy complex with tomatoes, eggs and stones, breaking windows as outnumbered police looked on.

Some groups have criticised police in the past for selective law enforcement that effectively encourages militant violence, but Gani said police have arrested FPI members on various occasions and were protecting Playboy staff members.

About 85 per cent of Indonesia's 220 million people are Muslims. Most are moderates, but militant groups have been increasingly vocal in recent years.

Several deadly bombing attacks in Indonesia have been blamed on the al Qaeda-linked Southeast Asia militant network Jemaah Islamiah, including blasts in Bali in 2002 that killed 202 people.

Founded in 1953, US-based Playboy has about 20 editions around the world that cater to local tastes.

REUTERS SHB KP1618

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