One Night In Indonesia

Indonesia has been riveted by a sex scandal involving the country’s biggest pop star.

In early June, a six-minute sex video featuring the singer Ariel (real name: Nazril Irham) started showing up on the Internet. Local media report that it was shortly after the singer’s laptop was stolen.

The video purportedly features not only Ariel, but also Luna Maya, his girlfriend and herself a popular model and actress, not to mention the face of Lux soap in the region. Both celebrities said that the two people in the clip are not them and that the video had been doctored. Shortly thereafter, a second, eight-minute video emerged supposedly showing Ariel with a former girlfriend, who also happens to be a famous model.

Despite Ariel’s protests of innocence, police were thinking of charging him under the country’s tough anti-pornography law, even if there was no evidence that the intimate sex scenes were intended for public viewing.

However, the bigger problem for the authorities was that the popularity of the subject of the video made it virtually impossible to control. By June 14 it seemed as if everyone in Indonesia had downloaded the videos, including students.

Photo: AP Photo
Nazril Irham, better known as Ariel, and his girlfriend Luna Maya are mobbed by reporters in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Consequently, police raided high schools, confiscating mobile phones that contained the illegal footage. The hysteria became so intense that some media reported that work in the capital of Jakarta came to a standstill as all employees were huddled around their computers looking at the clips.

Though Indonesia is secular, it has more Muslims than any other country, and the videos have sparked debate about whether or not the government should censor Internet content.