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US singer/songwriter Ariana Grande. (ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images)
US singer/songwriter Ariana Grande. (ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images)

Doubletalk

Religious fundamentalists offer surprising defense of ‘pornographic’ pop-song ban

By WITW Staff on February 28, 2019

Indonesia’s conservative West Java province has moved to ban 85 songs — including Ariana Grande’s Love Me Harder — from being played in daylight hours after declaring that their lyrics were pornographic. But in a strange twist to the tale, Deded Fardiah, the head of the West Java broadcasting commission has sought to frame the decision not as a religion-inspired ban on overt sexuality, but as a means of protecting women’s rights. The real reason for the songs being banned, suggested Fardiah in an official memorandum, was because of lyrics that “[objectify] women as sexual objects.”

Seventeen Western pop songs were included in the ban, and will now only be allowed to be played or broadcast in the deeply Muslim province between the hours of 10pm and 3am. Besides Grande, artists such as Ed Sheeran and Bruno Mars were also singled out by the commission for allegedly offensive content. The broadcasting body has said that the banned list is intended as a guideline, but that they reserve the right to issue punishments to radio and television stations that violate it.

Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, has struggled to balance conservatives’ desire for Sharia law with its ostensibly secular government. In October, several regencies in West Java moved to enact local decrees that would provide authorities with lists of allegedly gay and bisexual men and teach children that it was morally wrong to be LGBT in public schools, according to Human Rights Watch. Last April, the daughter of Indonesia’s first president, Sukmawati Sukarnoputri, was accused of blasphemy for reading a poem that made an appeal to traditional Indonesian culture over its more recently imported Islamic traditions. The country has also drawn widespread outrage for caning and lashing women women for being gay, engaging in extramarital affairs, and even, in the case of one 60-year-old Christian woman, for selling alcohol.

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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