Indonesia disbands Hizbut Tahrir group

The Indonesian government on Wednesday disbanded the local branch of an international Islamic organization that seeks to unite Muslim countries under a caliphate. 

The Justice and Human Rights Ministry had revoked the legal status of Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia as of Wednesday, said the ministry’s director general for legal administration, Freddy Harris.

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The move came a week after Indonesian President Joko Widodo issued a decree allowing authorities to disband organizations deemed threatening to national unity.

The decree is seen as targeting hard-line Islamic organizations and has been criticized by rights groups as a threat to freedom of association.

Hizbut Tahrir, which says that it uses non-violent means to achieve its goal for a caliphate, is active in Australia and Britain, but is banned in several Middle Eastern and Central Asian countries.

Last week, it called the presidential decree “tyrannical”.

“No law has been violated, but why are we being disbanded?” the group’s spokesman Muhammad Ismail Yusanto said.

“Don’t blame the public if they call this regime repressive and anti-Islamic,” he said.

Leaders of Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia were among the proponents of massive rallies seeking the prosecution of Jakarta’s Christian governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, for remarks about the Koran that some Muslims deem blasphemous.

Purnama – a key ally of Joko and the first Christian to lead the capital in 50 years – resigned from his post after he was sentenced to two years for blasphemy in May.

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