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Police Question Editors of Playboy Indonesia

Police brought in the editors of Playboy Indonesia for questioning Thursday, as the toned-down version of the U.S. men's magazine said it might stop publishing in the world's most populous Muslim nation because of protests.

Playboy Indonesia's editor in chief, Erwin Arnada, said advertisers had deserted the magazine after rock-throwing protesters vandalized its offices earlier this month, and his staff had received threats.

Asked if he would press ahead with a second edition, he said: "It is too soon to say."

The row over Playboy is part of a larger debate in Indonesia over the role Islam should play in public life. The country is traditionally moderate and secular, but in recent years has seen the emergence of a vocal conservative fringe who want to make the country an Islamic state and see themselves as arbiters of public morality.

Police officers questioned Arnada and other staff members for more than five hours, mostly about the technical aspects of publishing the magazine, Arnada told reporters at Jakarta police headquarters.

Arnada said late Wednesday that he and 10 other members of the editorial team were to be questioned in response to charges by Islamic groups that the magazine violates articles of the criminal code regulating distribution of materials that "violate morality."

Publication of such articles could lead to a maximum penalty of 16 months in jail, although whether that punishment would apply to the writers, editors or publishers is not clear.

Previously, police and government ministers have said the country has no laws to ban the magazine, the first edition of which featured no nudes and was less risque than other local and international magazines already for sale in Indonesia.

Most of its critics say the name of the magazine alone is grounds for the government to ban it.

"I keep telling them (the magazine's critics) to please review my magazine and compare it with ... adult men's lifestyle magazines already in Indonesia," Arnada told Dow Jones Newswires in an interview. "But they keep telling me to change the name 'Playboy,' not the content. It's ridiculous."

Perhaps of more concern to the magazine, Arnada said 26 corporate advertisers involved in the first issue said they would not continue placing ads because of the protests.

He claimed the first edition sold 100,000 copies.

"All our advertising clients have pulled their ads ... they are afraid of the FPI," he said, referring to the hardline group that stoned its offices.

Advertisers in the magazine were not immediately available for comment.

Arnada said he and other employees have received letters, text messages and phone calls promising unspecified "physical action and legal action" if publication continues.

"I'm concerned about my employees," he said.