Indonesian Islamic body issues gossip show ban

Jakarta, Indonesia - Indonesia's Islamic clerical body has issued an edict declaring that television gossip shows exposing celebrities' dirty laundry are forbidden, its leader said Wednesday.

The decision by the Indonesian Ulema Council on Tuesday came in the wake of a sex scandal involving three of the country's most famous celebrities.

'Television shows that contain gossip, slander and other people's embarrassing affairs are haram [religiously forbidden],' said council chairman Amidhan Shaberah.

'It's an alarming phenomenon that people are bombarded with such shows from early morning until late at night,' Amidhan said.

Celebrity news shows remain extremely popular in Indonesia despite an earlier fatwa against them issued by the country's largest Muslim organization, Nahdlatul Ulama.

The shows have had a field day since videos allegedly showing a local pop star, Nazriel 'Ariel' Irham, having sex with Luna Maya and Cut Tari, two of Indonesia's most famous models and TV presenters, hit the internet in June.

Obscured footage from the videos was aired for several days before the TV stations were reprimanded by the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission.

Ariel has been detained on charges of producing pornographic material while Maya and Tari had been declared suspects in the case.

Ariel, Maya and Tari have publicly denied they were the people in the videos.

Local channels have also been publicly criticized for showing singer Kris Dayanti kissing a man who is married to another woman on the lips at a press conference.

Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim-majority country and the council has the power to issue edicts on issues of concern to the faithful.

Some fatwas, like the ones against smoking and practising yoga with Hindu chanting, sparked heated controversies, even though they are not legally binding.