SCTV Widely Criticized for Giving In to FPI
Harsh criticisms, including from moderate Muslims, of both the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and SCTV’s decision to cancel broadcasting the controversial film “?” were not in short supply on Monday.
Members of Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization, Nahdlatul Ulama, which initially had issues with the film, were among those highly critical of the decision to cancel the broadcast scheduled for tonight.
“Indonesia is a law-abiding country. The authorities should have given security protection to SCTV,” said Nusron Wahid, the chairman of NU’s Ansor Youth Movement, according to a statement sent to the Jakarta Globe by Andreas Harsono of the Human Rights Watch.
Andreas was present at the meeting on Saturday afternoon between SCTV and FPI representatives during which the decision to cancel the film screening was made. The meeting was held after about a hundred FPI members rallied in front of the SCTV building in Senayan.
“If the police guaranteed protection, SCTV wouldn’t have been scared and canceled the film,” Nusron added. “Where are the police when you need them?”
Hamzah Sahal, an activist from NU, also regretted the police inaction with regard to the incident. According to FPI, they informed the Jakarta Police on Friday of their plan to “besiege” the SCTV office on Saturday.
“Just imagine if FPI kept rallying in front of SCTV and then GP Ansor came along, wouldn’t that have the potential to cause a civil war?” he said.
“For my Catholic, Christian, Buddhist and Hindu brothers and sisters, please know that FPI is a nobody among the nation’s Muslim community.”
Both NU members disowned the FPI, which often acts as the moral defender of Islam.
“FPI doesn’t represent anyone, that’s for sure. They have no santri [students of an Islamic boarding school], they have no political party. They’re a fake mass organization that has achieved nothing,” Hamzal added.
Habib Salim Alatas, the leader of FPI’s Jakarta wing, previously said they did not “understand why SCTV is willing to air ‘?’, while the Indonesian Council of Ulema [MUI] has clearly said the movie damages Islamic values and morale.”
The film is a study of the role and state of Islam in modern Indonesian society
But Nusron rejected this line of reasoning.
“Even if the MUI issued a fatwa, nobody but the government has the power to stop the movie from going on air,” he said.
Ironically, NU members had been among the vocal critics of the film by director Hanung Bramantyo ahead of its launch in April. A group called Banser, which operates as the youth army of NU, objected to a scene in which young Banser recruits are seen being paid to perform tasks that would normally be in direct breach of a good Muslim’s duty to be charitable.
Andreas Harsono said they tried to convince SCTV not to give in to FPI during the meeting, which was also attended by Hanung Bramantyo and activists such as Imam Shofwan from Pantau.
“We told them that the film ‘?’ had passed the Film Censorship Board. The Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI) also supports the broadcast of the movie. There are no legal reasons for SCTV to cancel it,” Andreas said in the e-mail to the Globe.
Reactions on social media were also harsh with Indonesian Twitter users calling the action cowardly.
A twitter user @mrshananto wrote, “Dear SCTV. Broadcasting the movie ‘?’ is the media’s choice. Canceling the movie because of FPI’s rally is a backward step. What’s next? Will they decide who can advertise too?”
Another named @saskiey wrote, “When SCTV bow to FPI pressure, it became clear the country is run by thugs. Indonesia is fast losing its great identity. Whose fault?”
It’s not the first time for SCTV to bow down to pressure.
Last October, SCTV at the last minute dropped the documentary “The Sex Business Behind Prison Bars,” which had been scheduled to air at 11 p.m. on Oct. 13.
Rights watchdogs criticized the Justice and Human Rights Ministry for allegedly giving the order. However, Patrialis Akbar, the justice minister, has denied having anything to do with the program’s cancellation.