Indonesia’s Islamic Defenders Front Cries Foul Over Cold Shoulder
Farouk Arnaz & Anita Rachman
In an ironic twist, the hard-line Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) is reporting five men in Central Kalimantan, including the governor and police chief, for the very offenses it has so often been accused of committing: unpleasant behavior, deprivation of freedom and destruction by a mob.
The action followed a protest by Dayak tribespeople at Tjilik Riwut Airport in Central Kalimantan’s capital of Palangkaraya on Saturday, meant to prevent members of the FPI from arriving to attend the opening ceremony of their new branch office there.
The airplane carrying FPI leader Rizieq Syihab and his entourage had to divert to South Kalimantan before trying to land again.
“Me and my friends from the FPI executive board have just been well-received by the special team formed by the National Police chief that is composed from various departments to hold a dialogue on Saturday’s incident. We are reporting the incident,” Rizieq said at the police headquarters.
However, National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Saud Usman Nasution immediately denied the police were setting up any kind of team regarding the incident. The report, he said, would be treated just like any other report filed to the police.
Meanwhile, people in Jakarta inspired by the Palangkaraya protests have formed the “Movement for an FPI-free Indonesia.”
Spokeswoman Tunggal Pawestri told the Jakarta Globe that the group planned to hold a rally at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle with some 500 people for 4 p.m. today to protest the FPI and organizations like it.
She said the plan had been developed on social media such as Facebook and Twitter.
Tunggal said that although complaints had been piling up against the FPI over its antics, little had been done about it.
“Civil society can do something. If Kalimantan can do it, Jakarta can also do it. We are rejecting violence committed by mass organizations,” she said.
Tunggal said she hoped the rally would encourage people to speak their mind about the FPI and other intolerant groups.
The FPI, self-appointed arbiter of Indonesia’s morals, has been known to raid nightclubs, places that sell alcohol and food stalls that remain open during the fasting month of Ramadan, as well as red-light districts.
Rizieq said the Palangkaraya crowd was not Dayak but “a group of racist, fascist, anarchist thugs under the guidance of [Central Kalimantan] Governor Agustin Teras Narang and allowed by the West Kalimantan Police chief, Brig. Gen. Damianus Zaky.”
He said protesters were led by Yansen Binti, whom he called a drug leader immune to the law; Lukas Tingkes, whom he called a corruptor also above the law; and a man identified only as Sabran.
Rizieq showed journalists a picture of the three men leading the protest.
Budiyardi, a councilor of Seruyan district who was traveling with Rizieq, claimed that not everyone in Central Kalimantan rejected the FPI and that he and others in Seruyan wanted the group to open an office there.
But on Tuesday, West Kalimantan Deputy Governor Achmad Diran read a joint statement by various religious and social organizations in the province, the leaders of the three branches of the government, the police and the military that rejected the FPI’s presence there.
The group included the heads of the provincial chapter of the Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI) and chapters of all major religious organizations.
Rizieq insisted the FPI still planned to open chapters in Central Kalimantan.