JAKARTA, KOMPAS.com – Jakarta’s Military Commander has delivered the strongest warning yet by officials against the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) after the group repeatedly defied Covid-19 health protocols following the return of exiled chief Rizieq Shihab last week.
“If necessary, [the government] should disband the FPI. If they want to challenge the military, bring them on,” said Army Major General Dudung Abdurachman at the National Monument [Monas] on Friday, November 20.
“Who does [FPI] think they are, acting like they are above the law?”
The two-star general confirmed that his soldiers took down the FPI’s banners near their main offices in Central Jakarta’s Petamburan district, as shown in a video that went viral on Twitter on Thursday, November 19.
“I issued orders to take down the FPI banners. The Public Order Agency [Satpol PP] first took them down as they were installed without a permit, but the FPI put them back up,” Dudung asserted.
“[The military] intervened [to uphold the law]. This country has laws, there are laws on putting up banners, a tax to put them up, and places designated for their installation. Again, [the FPI] should not do as they please like they are above the law.”
He added that the military will continue taking down FPI banners throughout Jakarta, among them in the Central Jakarta district of Tanah Abang near Petamburan.
“I am warning [the FPI] not to disrupt the country’s unity [and create division] by presuming to represent [Indonesian] Muslims,” Dudung said.
Rizieq and the FPI made headlines for holding a series of large gatherings, including mass prayers, in Jakarta and the neighboring province of West Java after his return from three years of exile in Saudi Arabia on November 10.
His actions resulted in the removal of regional police heads in both provinces, as well as the questioning of Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan and West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil for permitting the gatherings to occur.
(Writer: Ihsanuddin | Editors: Irfan Maullana, Sandro Gatra)