Indonesian Playboy trial closed to public, angering Islamic hard-liners

The trial of Playboy Indonesia's editor-in-chief was closed to the public Thursday, angering dozens of Islamic hard-liners who threatened to break down the courtroom doors if they are not granted access to the proceedings.

Erwin Arnada went on trial three weeks ago on indecency charges and could face 32 months in prison if convicted.

Under Indonesian law, indecency trials are closed when witness testimony is being heard to avoid obscene material or discussions being made public. Earlier hearings in Arnada's trial were open.

When the toned-down version of Playboy Indonesia launched in April containing no nudity Islamic fundamentalists loudly protested what they called the arrival of the global icon of pornography.

On Thursday, around 30 protesters chanted "God is great!" outside the courthouse and tried to force their way into the courtroom before court officials intervened.

They accused the presiding judge of being biased toward Playboy, which they said had "destroyed the morals of the nation."

Arnada told reporters that the protesters were entitled to demonstrate, but "I also ask that they respect this legal process."

Pornographic films on video, though illegal, also are sold more or less openly at stores across the country and some magazines are more sexually graphic than Playboy.

At earlier hearings prosecutors told the South Jakarta District Court that Arnada oversaw photo shoots and selected revealing pictures of female models in underwear, some showing partially exposed breasts.

Indonesia is a secular country with more Muslims than any other in the world, some 190 million. While most practice a moderate form of the faith, fundamentalists, taking cues from the Middle East, have been pushing hard to impose strict Islamic law.

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