National Police Say Crackdown on FPI Will Take More Than Just Them
Camelia Pasandaran & Farouk Arnaz
The National Police chief has responded to the president’s call to crack down on vigilante hard-line groups by insisting that other institutions besides the police force should be responsible for the job.
Gen. Timur Pradopo, the National Police chief, said on Monday that the police were committed to getting groups like the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) back in line, but there also needed to be guidance from other institutions in addition to enforcement from the police.
“I believe security disruptions can be minimized, but it’s not just the police that must take action,” he said.
“If we’re talking about preventive measures, then of course other stakeholders must be involved. Supervision can’t just come from the police, it also has to come from the Religious Affairs Ministry and other ministries, so that if we can handle the cases early enough, we can minimize the potential for security disruptions.”
Timur was responding to a call by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Sunday that he would no longer tolerate hard-line groups that disregarded the rule of law.
“Take firm action against groups that force their own will and violate the constitutional rights of others,” he said at an event to mark the 66th anniversary of the founding of the police force.
The statement came just hours after the FPI ransacked a police station in the West Java city of Tasikmalaya.
Police said that the attack stemmed from a brawl that broke out between the FPI and a local youth group, Karang Taruna, after the Islamists tried to stop a dangdut concert.
Three FPI members were beaten by the youths. When police broke up the fight and arrested those involved, the FPI turned its fury on the local police station and pelted it with rocks.
FPI spokesman Munarman denied the report, saying that “thugs” burned the motorcycles of five FPI members.
“There was no attack on the police station,” Munarman said in a text message.
“What did take place is that five motorcycles belonging to our men were torched by thugs backed by the local police. One of my men is still missing.”
Munarman did not detail who the police were or why the motorcycles were attacked.
Home Affairs Minister Gamawan Fauzi, who previously threatened to ban the FPI if the organization attacked another public institution after the hard-liners pelted the Home Affairs Ministry with stones, said the group was one warning away from being dissolved.
“I told [FPI chairman Rizieq Shihab] ‘It has happened twice. If it happens for a third time, I’m going to dismiss your organization,’ ” he said.
He added that the first warning came after an attack on religious freedom advocates at the National Monument (Monas) in Jakarta in June 2008, with the second after the FPI stoned the Home Affairs Ministry building in January this year.
The FPI is notorious for its vigilante raids and acts of violence against groups it considers “un-Islamic,” including nightclubs, stores selling alcohol and musical and dance performances.