JAKARTA, KOMPAS.com – Indonesia’s security czar has denied allegations about the government plans to mend fences with the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and its chief Rizieq Shihab prior to the latter’s return from his three-year exile in Saudi Arabia last November.
“I would like to emphasize that the government has no plans to reconcile with Rizieq and the FPI,” said Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Mahfud MD on Saturday, December 12. "But we did plan to start talks in a neutral country before he returned to Indonesia."
“[The government] discussed the issue with Rizieq’s legal team, including Sugito Atmo, on November 9, the day before he returned to Indonesia. We did so to keep the channels open with him and maintain the peace between [conservative] Muslims and the rest of the nation.”
However, the talks broke down before they even started, because the terms that Rizieq and the FPI set for reconciliation with the government were too steep.
“We were surprised by [Rizieq’s] speech [on arriving in Indonesia] calling for the government to release a number of men convicted of terrorism and other crimes,” Mahfud said. ”We have not even started talks.” He did not specify the individuals or the charges laid against them.
Rizieq fled to Saudi Arabia in 2017 to evade pornography charges laid against him by the police.
Investigators laid the case against Rizieq after he played a major role in the 212 Alumni, a collection of conservative Islamic groups helped Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan beat his Chinese Christian predecessor Basuki ‘Ahok’ Tjahaja Purnama.
(Writer: Tsarina Maharani | Editor : Sabrina Asril)
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