Tag: FPI

Supporters of Indonesian cleric set up think-tank in his honour

Supporters of controversial Indonesian cleric Muhammad Rizieq Shihab have set up a think-tank named after him in a sign of his growing stature at home as he fights legal troubles from a self-imposed exile in Saudi Arabia.

The Habib Rizieq Shihab Center, which was inaugurated in Jakarta over the weekend, aims to be a scientific and strategic research hub based on Islamic values for the benefit of Muslims and the country in general, said its chairman, Abdul Choir Ramadhan. “Habib” is an honorific used to address a Muslim scholar believed to a descendant of the Prophet Mohammad.

“The center is named after him because of his stature and as a show of our admiration for his struggle to uphold Islamic values,” Ramadhan said. He said the center was self-funded but did not rule out public donations.

Rizieq, founder of the vigilante group Islamic Defenders’ Front (FPI), shot to political prominence after he led a campaign in 2016 and 2017 to oust then-Jakarta Gov. Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, a Christian of Chinese descent, over allegations that he had insulted the Koran in off-the-cuff remarks.

The center’s launch coincided with the 20th anniversary of the FPI’s founding. The group is notorious for past anti-vice raids targeting places accused of harboring sex workers and drug users, as well as nightspots that remained open during Ramadan.

Rizieq has been in a self-imposed exile in Saudi Arabia following attempts by Indonesian police to question him last year over allegations he had engaged in a lewd online chat with a female supporter and a separate charge of insulting the Indonesian state ideology of Pancasila.

Investigations into the cases were stopped this year with police citing a lack of evidence.

The cleric’s supporters said the cases against him were fabricated by the government of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo because of Rizieq’s role in inflaming Muslim sentiment against Ahok, an ally of the president.

Ramadhan said Rizieq had doubts about returning home any time soon, saying the political climate is unfavorable.

“The investigations may have been dropped, but they can always reinstate them any time,” Ramadhan said.

On Saturday, Rizieq delivered a speech through a telephone link during the ceremonial launch of the center.

“I hope that the HRS Center will become a place for the advancement of knowledge for the benefit of the Muslim ummah (society) and the country,” he said in the message posted on YouTube.

“This is in line with the principles of my struggle that I have always adhered to: That the Scripture must be above the Constitution, and that the Constitution should not deviate from the Scripture,” he said.

“The institutionalization of Sharia is inevitable for Islamic values are an inseparable part of our nation building,” he added.

Emrus Sihombing, a political analyst at Pelita Harapan University, described the center as a positive move.

“If the center is indeed engaged in scientific and strategic studies for the benefit of the ummah, it’s very good for public discourse because there will be debates on the merits of their ideas,” he said.

“It will be a lot more productive,” he said.  “He is a leader who commands the strong loyalty of people who subscribe to his views.”

Rizieq played a key role in last year’s conviction and imprisonment of Ahok on blasphemy charges.

Conservative Muslim groups held protests against Ahok in 2016 and 2017 in the run-up to a gubernatorial election in which he was a front-runner after an edited video made it appear that he had said the Quran deceived people.

Ahok lost the Jakarta gubernatorial election to former Education Minister Anies Baswedan, who courted support of FPI and other conservative Muslim groups despite his liberal credentials. Ahok later was sentenced to two years in prison for blasphemy.

Ramadhan said the HRS Center would conduct studies, hold seminars, provide training as well as publish books to influence public discourse on Islam, including in the aspects of law, governance and public policy.

“We want to promote ideas of a system of governance based on Islamic values,” he said.

“There’s no contradiction between Pancasila (the state ideology) and Islamic teachings.”

Copyright ©2018, BenarNews. Used with the permission of BenarNews.

Abu Bakar Ba’asyir’s lawyer mulls second case review, having lost the first

Jailed cleric Abu Bakar Ba’asyir’s defence team is considering lodging a second case review request with the Supreme Court.

One of Ba’asyir’s lawyers, Achmad Michdan said there was a change in the composition of panel of judges who reviewed  the case.

“The judges who handed down the ruling are different to those who were appointed to preside the hearings when we lodged the appeal. We weren’t notified that there was a change,” Michdan said.

“This is peculiar and we are going to question this. For us, this is a legal problem,” he said.

Supreme Court spokesman Suhadi said the court rejected Ba’asyir’s appeal against his 2011 conviction for funding militant training in Aceh.

“The court handed down the verdict on July 27. It was rejected because it didn’t meet the requirements for an appeal, such as presenting new evidence,” Suhadi said.

Suhadi confirmed that there was a change in the panel of judges. The three justices initally appointed by Supreme Court Chief Justice Hatta Ali were Artidjo Alkostar, Suhadi, and Sri Murwahyuni with Artidjo as the chair.

“When Artidjo realised it was Ba’asyir’s case, he resigned from the panel on grounds that he has served as a judge in Ba’asyir’s previous case,” Suhadi said.

Artidjo was one of the justices that presided Ba’asyir’s appeal in 2004 after South Jakarta District Court sentenced him to 30 months in prison for his involvement in the 2002 Bali and August 2003 JW Marriott Hotel in Jakarta bomb attacks.

The five-justice panel overturned Ba’asyir’s conviction in 2006 and declared he was not involved in both attacks.

Both Michdan and Ba’asyir’s son, Abdurrahim Ba’asyir, declined to comment further on the rejection, saying that they have not received the official copy of the ruling.

Abdurrahim, who is the youngest of the Ba’asyir’s three children, said he believed that the five witnesses testified in his father’s appeal hearings were credible.

“We still don’t know why the appeal was rejected. We want to know why. We believed, God’s willing, the argument in the appeal was solid and we presented credible witnesses,” he said.

One of the five witnesses who testified in court with Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) leader Habib Rizieq Shihab and three terrorist convicts incarcerated in Nusakambangan prison island was physician and humanitarian worker Joserizal Jurnalis.

joserizal, who is the founder of humanitarian group Medical Emergency Rescue Committee (MER-C), expressed concerns about the Supreme Court rejection, saying that the panel of judges should have taken Ba’asyir’s ill-health and old age into account.

“I really regret the verdict. As his physician, my main concern is his health and old age. He is now 77 years old and by the time he finishes his sentence, Ba’asyir would be 87 years old,” Joserizal told The Parrot.

Ba’asyir was transferred from a Nusakambangan prison to Gunung Sindur prison in West Java on April 16 so that he could receive better medical treatment and where he remains isolated.

He said that Ba’asyir is in good health for a man his age and that he keeps exercising in his isolation cell with sports equipment and static bike that his medical team provided, with the approval of the Justice and Human Rights Ministry.

Ba’asyir’s lawyers argued that the cleric believed the money he donated was to support the establishment of an Indonesian hospital in Palestine, which MER-C constructed and that Ba’asyir was unaware the money he donated was used to fund the extremist training camp in Aceh.

The first hearing took place at the Cilacap District Court in Central Java just two days before the suicide bomb attack in Jakarta on January 14.

Meanwhile, Indonesian police on Friday arrested six suspected Islamist militants, one of whom had allegedly considered launching a rocket at Singapore’s Marina Bay, a spokesman said.

The six were arrested in three separate locations on Batam island, just south of Singapore, national police spokesman Boy Rafli Amar said.

The suspects are linked to Bachrun Naim, a wanted Indonesian militant thought to be fighting alongside the Islamic State group in Syria, Amar said.

Among those arrested was Gigih Rahmat Dewa, who according to Amar had plotted together with Naim to launch a rocket from Batam at Singapore’s Marina Bay.

The alleged plan never materialized.

“[Dewa] also helped facilitate trips by Indonesians to Syria via Turkey,” Amar said.

Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, has suffered several deadly attacks blamed on Islamist militants since the early 2000s.