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Arifinto, Indonesian Politician, Resigns After Being Caught Watching Porn

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JAKARTA, Indonesia -- An Indonesian lawmaker who helped pass a tough anti-pornography law resigned Monday after he got caught watching sexually explicit videos on his computer during a parliamentary debate.

The scandal has transfixed this predominantly Muslim nation since a local photojournalist filmed Arifinto, a member of the staunchly Islamic Prosperous Justice Party, gazing at the downloaded porn sites Friday.

The blurred images have been published on the front pages of newspapers almost daily, and reaction has set alight social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Some commenters said Arifinto should be prosecuted under the anti-pornography law that took effect in 2008 despite opposition from the public and some members of the government.

Fifty-year-old Arifinto, who like many Indonesians goes by only one name, apologized to his constituents Monday and told reporters during a hastily arranged news conference he was stepping down from Parliament immediately.

"It's my decision," said the father of five, insisting he was not acting on the orders of his party. "Nobody tried to coerce me."

Indonesia, a secular country of 237 million people, has more Muslims than any other country in the world. Though most are moderate, a small extremist fringe has become more vocal in recent years.

They have pushed through several controversial laws – including the pornography law. Supporters say the law is needed to keep the country from sliding into moral decline, while critics say it's vaguely worded and the penalties too harsh.

The law calls for prison terms of up to 15 years and fines for everything from kissing in public and exposure of a woman's "sensual" body parts to displaying "erotic" artworks.

Broadcasting, possessing and storing pornographic material also is prohibited.

Arifinto, who oversees a parliamentary commission dealing with transportation, telecommunications and rural development, was an outspoken supporter of the law.

He was caught watching the video clip for several minutes as fellow legislators debated plans to build a new parliament building.

National Police spokesman, Boy Rafli Amar, said Monday authorities were still trying to determine if Arifinto broke the anti-pornography law and what steps to take next.

"We need to be cautious," he said. "We need to make sure we're not violating any privacy laws."

The anti-porn law was used in January to sentence Nazril "Ariel" Irham, lead singer of the country's most popular band Peterpan, to 3 1/2 years in jail after two homemade sex tapes found their way to the Internet.

Last year, the editor in chief of Playboy Indonesia was given two years behind bars.

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