Tamer Playboy hits Jakarta newsstands
Islamic leaders denounce magazine, despite lack of nude women

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) -- A toned-down edition of Playboy magazine went on sale Friday in Indonesia, defying threats of protests by Islamic hardliners who called the publication a form of moral terrorism in the world's most populous Muslim nation.

The magazine does not feature nude women, and its photos of female models in underwear are no more risque than those in other magazines already for sale in the country. More explicit photos appear daily in local tabloids.

Protesters hit the streets in towns across Indonesia when the magazine announced in January it was planning a local version, but it remains to be seen whether demonstrations will pick up again after people have read it.

One hardline group, the Islamic Defenders Front, pledged to forcefully remove the magazines from shops.

"The first edition might be tame, but it will get more vulgar," said group spokesman Tubagus Muhamad Sidik. "Even if it had no pictures of women in it, we would still protest it because of the name."

Muslim leader Yusuf Hasyim said the magazine posed more of a threat to Indonesia than the terrorism from al Qaeda-linked militants that has killed more than 240 people in the sprawling country in recent years.

"This is a kind of moral terrorism that destroys the way of the life of the nation in a systematic and long-term way," state news agency Antara quoted Yusuf Hasyim as saying, calling on Muslim youth not to attack shops selling the magazine.

Playboy, which already has 17 international editions with content tailored to local tastes, played down the protest threats.

"Let the people look at it and see what they think. Hopefully they will accept it," said promotion manager Avianto Nugroho. "If there are demonstrations, we will try to meet their demands."

The magazine is unlikely to worry too much because if protests remain largely peaceful they will only boost sales. Nugroho denied speculation that by choosing to launch the magazine on Friday, the Islamic day of prayer, it was actively trying to trigger protests.

Most Indonesians practice a moderate form of Islam, and many women shun standard Middle Eastern forms of dress associated with Muslims. Many Indonesian women do not cover their heads and often dress in tight-fitting jeans and sleeveless tops.

Indonesian versions of Western magazines FHM and Maxim, which also contain photos of women in underwear, are already on sale.

Pornographic video compact discs, though illegal, are sold more or less openly at markets all over the country.

The magazine costs around $5 (&euro3.5), more than twice the minimum daily wage in Jakarta, but affordable to many middle- and upper-class city dwellers.

As well as two photo spreads of partially clothed women, the first edition includes an interview with internationally renowned Indonesian author Pramoedya Ananta Toer, and articles on East Timor after its break from Jakarta rule in 1999 and the development of Indonesian cartoons.