Kiss Off

Banning affection.


Indonesian couples caught kissing on the mouth in public could soon face five years in the slammer, under a bill drafted in March by Jakarta legislators. "It is unclear," a dry Agence France- Presse account notes, "whether the ban would also apply to married couples."

This severe punishment of smooching is part of an omnibus legislative attack on immorality that would also impose a 10-year prison sentence for erotic dancing. That section of the bill seems to target one woman: Inul Daratista, whose talent at hip shaking has earned her both national stardom and the enmity of the nation's Islamic clerics.

Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country, has long been the home of an easygoing form of Islam. Now it is a front in the pop culture war being waged throughout the Muslim world. From the Mideast to Central Asia, taboo-breaking movies, sexy music videos, pop concerts (especially by women singers), and even reality TV shows are increasingly the source of conservative outrage. A version of the TV show Big Brother set in Bahrain was recently canceled following escalating protests.

The Indonesian bill, Agence France-Presse reports, also criminalizes "nudity, masturbation and lewd gestures."