JAKARTA, KOMPAS.com – The Indonesian National Police started off 2021 by emphatically outlawing the Islamic Defenders Front [FPI], two days after the government officially disbanded the hard-line organization.
In a circular issued on Friday, January 1 2021, Indonesian National Police Chief General Idham Azis warned the public not to “access, download, and distribute the FPI’s content through websites or social media.”
The four-star general also cautioned against “supporting or facilitating the FPI’s activities, as well as using their symbols and attributes. We also urge anyone who saw any FPI attributes or activities to report them to the authorities.”
Idham gave his men the discretion to act accordingly if they found any violations of the circular. This includes destroying FPI banners, pamphlets and other accessories.
Also read: Indonesia Officially Disbands the FPI
But Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Mahfud MD took a more lenient stance against ex FPI members who rebranded the group as the Islamic United Front.
“The government will not take steps against the [new] FPI or single them out, as long as they do not break the law," Mahfud said of the group, whose Indonesian name Front Persatuan Islam ensured that their acronym remains unchanged.
"After all, Indonesia’s laws and [the 1945] Constitution has no clauses that forbid the public from forming unions or other organizations.”
The FPI remained defiant after the ban, as chairman Shafri Lubis and secretary Munarman urged members not to “clash or bicker with [President Joko Widodo’s] ‘tyrannical regime’.”
Also read: German Embassy Staff Member Banned from Indonesia after FPI Visit
The government issued a joint ministerial decree (SKB) to disband the FPI.
Six ministers or officials of equal rank like Minister of Home Affairs Tito Karnavian, Minister of Legal Affairs and Human Rights Yasonna Laoly, and Indonesian National Police Chief General Idham Aziz signed the document.
The decree came after more than a month of tensions with the group following the return of their firebrand chief Rizieq Shihab from his exile in Saudi Arabia.
The tensions stemmed from the FPI’s defiance of health protocols, and increasing clashes with police and military personnel.
The latter culminated in a standoff at a toll road outside Jakarta last December that left six FPI members dead, as well as the arrest of the group's founder, firebrand cleric Rizieq Shihab.
(Writer: Achmad Nasrudin Yahya | Editors: Khairina, Icha Rastika)
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