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24 Sep 03,, 01:51
Adult magazine challenges Muslims

Indonesia's clash of values
From CNN Jakarta Bureau Chief Maria Ressa
Monday, September 22, 2003 Posted: 9:35 PM EDT (0135 GMT)

JAKARTA, Indonesia (CNN) -- Sexy, suggestive and blatantly provocative. International adult magazine FHM (For Him Magazine) is now in Indonesia.

Its opening cover? The Baywatch girls.

But the publisher says future issues will feature Indonesian beauties.

Analysts say liberal Western values reflected by images in magazines like FHM have angered many Indonesians, contrasting with the more conservative image preferred by many in the country with the world's largest Muslim population.

The easing of standards is turning more and more Indonesians toward a more fundamental view.

"This kind of magazine will create tension," researcher Ade Armand of University of Indonesia said.

"(It's) another proof of the threatening effect of modernization, Westernization and globalization, and it will justify their fear. And they will use this kind of fear . . . and go back to the fundamentalist route and go to hell with your globalizations."

It is a trend that started nearly a decade ago -- easily seen in the growing numbers of women who chose to wear the jilbab and cover their heads.

After the September 11 attacks in the United States, that conflict has taken added importance.

The clash of values is the core conflict in the Islamic world today, defining the moderates and the radicals and creating the ideological front lines in the global war on terror.

In Indonesia, it is a battle for the soul of Islam and in this atmosphere, radical messages pushing a return to a purer form of Islam are gaining support.

One is the campaign for Islamic Sharia law led by clerics like Abu Bakar Ba'asyir, the alleged leader of al Qaeda's terror network in the region.

"That's a good offering from the Muslim community," Secretary general of Indonesia's Ulema Council, Din Syamsuddin, said, "as an answer and response to the immoralization and secularization which paved the way for the decline of our nation because of lack of morality."

But not all Indonesians agree and FHM is expected to be wildly popular in Indonesia.

The challenge now for Indonesians is to decide whether both views should co-exist.