Monitor (tabloid)

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Date: 1990

Region: Asia

Subject: Religion

Medium: Print Journalism


Artist: Mr. Arswendo Atmowilto

Confronting Bodies: Muslims

Dates of Action: October, 1990

Location: Jakarta, Indonesia

Description of Artwork: An article that appeared in the Monitor, a mass circulation weekly tabloid that has frequently flirted with the local limits of good taste. In October of 1990, Mr. Arswendo Atmowilto, the paper's editor, published a postcard poll of the 50 most admirable public figures. President Suharto, unsuprisingly came first. Iraq's Mr. Saddam Hussein managed seventh place, and Mr. Arswendo came tenth-one place ahead of the prophet (Muhammed) himself."

The Incident: The results of the poll published by the Monitor caused a great deal of controversy with the Muslim culture. "... At the end of October a mob of young men ransacked the offices of the Monitor... Muslims howled that Mr. Arswendo was even worse than Mr. Salman Rushdie, who at least never claimed to be more admirable than Muhammed."

Results of Incident: President Suharto sent troops to quell the mob, arrested Mr. Atmowilto and shut down the Monitor. "President Suharto said he wanted Mr. Arswendo brought to court (which he will be, though apparently not on the sedition charge that some militant Muslims would like him to face)."

Source: South-East Asia Correspondent, The Economist, Nov. 17, 1990, pg. 41