Ebene News – UA – Indonesia bans Radical Islamic Front group

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesia has banned the controversial and politically influential extremist group the Islamic Defender Front, the chief security minister said on Wednesday

Minister Mahfud MD said the group, widely known by its acronym FPI, was banned with immediate effect

“The government has banned the activities of the FPI and will stop all activities carried out by the FPI,” said Mahfud “The FPI no longer has legal status as an organization”

The ban follows the return in November of the group’s spiritual figurehead, Rizieq Shihab, after three years of self-exile in Saudi Arabia, celebrated by events in which thousands participated

Rizieq’s return to the world’s largest Muslim-majority country had fueled concern within the government that he might attempt to mobilize opposition forces

The 55-year-old cleric was arrested this month on charges of violating health protocols and remains in detention, while a clash between police and his supporters – in which six of his bodyguards were slaughtered – is under investigation by national authorities human rights body

Mahfud said the REIT had been formally dissolved since June of last year, but continued to operate illegally

Six senior government officials, including the attorney general, the police chief and the head of the counterterrorism agency were involved in the decision to ban the group, he said

Deputy Justice Minister Edward Omar Sharif Hiariej said the FPI was banned because nearly 30 of its leaders, members and former members had been convicted of terrorism, and because the group was in conflict with the nation’s state ideology, Pancasila, which emphasizes unity and diversity

Formed shortly after the fall of former strongman Suharto in 1998, the REIT was renowned for its raids on bars and brothels and for intimidating religious minorities It is also known to offer assistance during natural disasters

His political influence has grown in recent years, especially after his role in the 2016 protests against the former Christian governor of Jakarta who was jailed for insulting Islam

The government viewed the protests as one of the biggest threats to President Joko Widodo’s power

Dr Ian Wilson, senior lecturer in security policy and studies and researcher at the Asian Research Center at Murdoch University, said the ban could prove counterproductive

“Banning FPI will do little to alleviate the factors that have led to its popularity as a social phenomenon, and is likely to ‘radicalize’ some members and supporters,” he said

The ban raised questions about the application and the implications for democratic expression in the world’s third largest democracy, he said

Wilson said the decision had to be seen against the background of recent political developments, including the purge of FPI members and supporters of the Indonesian Council of Ulema

“The government is on the offensive against what it sees as a potential locus of popular Islamist opposition, sharpened by Rizieq’s recent return,” he said

Security analysts suggested the ban could trigger a backlash or force the REIT and its activities underground

Senior FPI member Novel Bamukmin was defiant, telling Reuters the ban would do little to calm people down

“They can dissolve the FPI, but they cannot dissolve our struggle to defend the country and the religion. And if we want, this afternoon, we can declare a new Islamic mass organization,” he said. he says,

Reporting by Agustinus Beo Da Costa in Jakarta and Kate Lamb in Sydney; Written by Kate Lamb; Edited by Martin Petty and

All quotes have been delayed by at least 15 minutes See here for a full list of exchanges and delays

Islamic Defenders Front, Indonesia, Muhammad Rizieq Shihab, Mahfud MD, government

Ebene News – UA – Indonesia bans Radical Islamist Front group

Source: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-indonesia-security-idUSKBN2940FM