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Southeast Asia, explained

Indonesia's Ramadan porn block blitz

Fundamentalist IT minister back on the anti-porn crusade
Indonesia porn block 2012 07 20Enlarge
Indonesia's Information Technology Minister Tifatul Sembiring at a 2010 press conference in Jakarta (BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images)

What do you get when you allow an attention-seeking fundamentalist to head a massive nation's IT ministry?

A lot of anti-porn crusading.

Tifatul Sembiring, Communications and Information Technology Minister of Indonesia, hates porn.

He hates it so much that he told the Jakarta Globe two years ago that frequently checks porn sites on his mobile phone to ensure they are adequately blocked.

He hates it so much that he likened an Indonesian pop star's appearance in a leaked sex video to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. 

But Tifatul especially hates porn during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. For the second time in two years, Tifatul has vowed to purge Indonesia of online pornography during Ramadan. He told the Jakarta Post that the government is now on "high alert" to make Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim-majority nation, "free of porn."

It is easily argued that Tifatul's views are significantly more conservative than the norm in Indonesia, where voters have time and again offered only scant support to his fundamentalist Prosperous Justice Party. He is perhaps best known for refusing to shake Michelle Obama's hand to sustain his religious purity. (He shook it anyway but said he was helpless to control such an "off the cuff" situation.)

But his party is best known for a much more awkward incident. Last year, a parliamentarian with the party resigned after fellow lawmakers caught him watching porn on his mobile phone.

In parliament.

If members of Tifatul's party can't keep up with his moral code, can he really expect the public to meet his expectations of piety?

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/southeast-asia/indonesias-ramadan-porn-block-blitz