The Nahdlatul Ulama's fatwa against television gossip shows.
At their national conference at the end of July the clerics of the NU determined that Muslims who make or watch celebrity gossip shows, or "infotainmen", commit sin and participate in the moral degradation of the nation. The issuing of the fatwa has drawn the support of a number of groups including the Press Board, the PPP, Partai Persatuan Pembangunan, and the Majelis Ulama Indonesia, the Ulema Council.
Press Board, Dewan Pers, spokesman Leo Batubara said that the broadcasting of infotainment shows which deal with unfounded stories of adultery, gossip, and such like, was clearly against the Press Law and the journalists' code of ethics. But, he said, if there were some basis in fact for the accusations of adultery against a famous person there was no problem.
Endin AJ Soefihara of the PPP urged the public to support the fatwa and he said that the machinery of his party would be whirled into action to educate society on the need for the fatwa. He worried that many people took the lives of celebrities, as observed by watching gossip shows, as good examples for themselves:
If they follow a good example then there's no problem but if the example is of the culture of consumption, glamourous living, and news of divorces, then it's bad for society.
(Kalau yang dicontoh itu baik-baik sih tidak masalah. Tapi kalau yang dicontoh itu budaya konsumtif, kehidupan glamor dan berita cerai-cerai bahaya buat masyarakat.)
Chairman of the Majelis Ulama Indonesia, Amidhan, also supported the fatwa. If television shows concerned themselves with the personal scandals of other people they were sinful, he said.
Former leader of the NU, Abdurrahman "Gus Dur" Wahid, however advised people to not pay too much attention to the fatwa, as it was not the only accepted view of the matter. He said the NU was entitled to take a position on the question but others were free to think as they pleased. He mentioned the example of a former leader of the NU, Bisry Samsuri, who had forbidden women from playing drums in music bands. Many women, including members of the NU, continued to bash away on the drums regardless, he said.
He said that the fact that NU had chosen to discuss the (non) issue of gossip shows suggested they were struggling to find important matters to debate. Education, poverty, and health issues were more suitable as objects of concern, he said.