Sunday, July 28, 2013


Sunday, 28 July, 2013

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The state, not the FPI, is the real problem
The Jakarta Post Commentary: , July 24 2013 ,
Endy M. Bayuni

The Islam Defenders Front (FPI) came under another round of scathing attacks this week in the wake of the latest violence involving its members. Media news and commentaries, as well as social media, are buzzing with condemnations of the group over what happened in the Central Java town of Kendal last Thursday.
There is now a growing chorus to disband the FPI, invoking the Mass Organization Law that
gives the government such power. The law, passed by the House of Representatives this
month, has yet to be signed into law by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
Ironically, the same people who had opposed the passage of the law when it was deliberated in the House due to its draconian nature are also clamoring for the ban.

But is the FPI the real culprit?

We are treading a fine line between the need to protect freedom of association and freedom
of expression on the one hand, and the need to protect citizens against violent acts
perpetrated by groups like the FPI on the other. These rights are guaranteed by the
constitution, which also states that the state is responsible for ensuring that those
rights are upheld.
Criticisms against the FPI, long notorious for its violent acts, have been misplaced. We
are barking up the wrong tree. The FPI is not the real problem. The state is.

Why is the FPI allowed to get away with these violent criminal acts in the first place,
tormenting, harassing, injuring and at one time even killing its targets? Only a few of
these incidents — we could count on one hand — ended up in court and jail.

Now, as we saw what happened in Kendal on July 18, we are heading to a dangerous situation where violence is starting to beget violence.The local people, in a spontaneous move upon hearing that a woman was killed after an FPI
car crashed into her during one of its sweeping operations against vice, went after the
FPI members with equal violence. Fortunately, the heavily outnumbered FPI members found sanctuary in a mosque and were evacuated to safety only after police arrived to fetch them. The angry mob was waiting outside ready to inflict harm.

Many people, as is clear from their comments in social media, cheered when the FPI finally got a taste of its own medicine: fear.
They did not see the more serious implications of this. More people in the future will
organize themselves into a mob to confront the FPI every time it goes out on a sweeping
operation. Both sides will be armed for sure, and both would not back down. We can predict that there will be more clashes in the future.

Where is the state, the police, in particular, in all this?
This is the question that many people have repeatedly asked every time they hear of
another report of FPI harassment or violent attacks against religious minorities,
restaurant and bar owners, or just about anyone who has come under its wrath.

The state has never been more impotent when it comes to dealing with the likes of the FPI.The FPI’s right to exist should be protected, no matter how violent its ideology is. The
danger with banning the FPI is that we know it will not be the last one to go, and that
soon, organizations critical of the government will be muzzled this way. In the past, we
have seen how the Mass Organization Law can become a powerful, repressive tool.

Small organizations like the FPI thrive on media attention. The massive publicity makes
them look a lot bigger than it is. The portrayal of the FPI as a violent or “anarchistic”
group by the media plays into its agenda, for it helps to instill fear in the public. Even
the police are scared, apparently.
As much as some people want to, we cannot ban any ideology. Like faith, people believe
what they want to believe. But the state can do something each time these violent groups
break the law. Not before.

We should all be venting our anger at the state, in this case, Yudhoyono, the man who, for
some strange reason, was in May conferred an international statesman award for promoting religious tolerance in Indonesia by the New York-based Appeal to Conscience Foundation.
He has failed us.
On Monday, amid all the social media buzz calling for the FPI ban, Yudhoyono said he would not tolerate acts of violence and instructed the police to do something about it.

Mr. President, we have heard it before. Until we see real action on your part, we will not
raise our hopes.The FPI also did not take Yudhoyono’s remarks seriously. No sooner after he made it, FPI chairman Habib Rizieq came out with the most defiant statement, calling the president “a

Therefore, it looks like the violence will continue, but next time around, it may be
worse. After Kendal, expect ugly clashes from what our bureaucrats like to call
“horizontal conflicts”.
Only Yudhoyono can put a stop to this. Unless he forgets, in the oath of office that he
took in 2004 and in 2009, he pledged to uphold the constitution. That means protecting
every citizen against acts of violence, by anyone, even those who claim to represent God.

Yudhoyono is good until October 2014. Indonesia is already a failing state. He should stop
it from completely failing.

Lawmakers urge govt to ban FPI
Margareth S. Aritonang, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | National | Mon, July 22 2013, 10:05 AM
Members of the House of Representatives have called on the government to take action against the hard-line Islam Defenders Front (FPI) following last week’s clash between its members and residents of Sukorejo, Kendal, Central Java, which left a local woman dead.
The lawmakers said the decision was in the hands of the Home Ministry. The ministry is responsible for managing the country’s mass organizations and has authority under the newly-enacted Law on mass organization to take action against the FPI to prevent more violence.

“The FPI has clearly violated stipulations in the law on mass organizations by committing violence. The government should take firm action against the organization, by implementing an immediate suspension,” lawmaker Abdul Malik Haramain, who chaired a special committee tasked with deliberating the Mass Organization Law at the House of Representatives, told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.The National Awakening Party (PKB) politician emphasized that such a punishment was urgent in order to “prevent members of the FPI committing further violent acts against locals”.

Tri Muniarti, 42, a resident of Sukorejo, died after a car driven by members of the FPI hit her and several other people, including her husband, during a riot following FPI attempts to conduct a sweep in the village’s red-light area last Thursday.Tri sustained severe head injuries and was pronounced dead upon arrival at Ngesti Waluyo Hospital in Parakan. Three other residents sustained fractures and bruises.

The Mass Organization Law, which was endorsed in June, amid widespread criticism for its undermining of freedom of association, mandates the government to temporarily halt the operations of any groups that, among other things, fail to preserve peace and public order, as well as groups that attempt to take the law into their own hands.

However, Home Minister Gamawan Fauzi said that the government could only act if it received recommendations from members of the public or the National Police, a stance lawmakers dismissed as “unacceptable”. “The law says nothing about such requirements,” Haramain said. “The law stipulates that the government can issue warning letters to problematic organizations and can temporarily halt their operations if they fail to respond to the warnings.”

Separately, Eva Kusuma Sundari from the House’s Commission III overseeing law and human rights concurred with Haramain, saying that “the government’s reluctance to punish the FPI for what happened in Kendal shows that it is afraid of the radical group”.

According to Eva, a politician from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), the government and the police do not need any more reasons to punish groups such as the FPI, which has repeatedly committed violence and illegally imposed its will on the public.
“It’s crystal clear to me that the government has never had the commitment to punish vigilante groups, such as the FPI. It’s unreasonable for the government to wait for recommendations in order to take action against the FPI or any other vigilante groups because it is the institution with the mandated authority.”

During the deliberation of the law, the Home Ministry, which initiated it, repeatedly gave assurances that the bill would be responsive to public calls for the disbandment of violent groups such as the FPI.Prodemocracy activists, however, doubt whether the law will address the problem and have called for a repeal of the draconian legislation.

Activists said that the government’s response to the incident in Sukorejo showed that with or without the Mass Organization Law the government would not take action against the FPI.
“It’s clear that the government won’t deal with the FPI with or without the law,” Elga Sarapung from Yogyakarta-based interfaith organization, DIAN/Interfidei, said.
Responding to the critics, Bachtiar, the Home Ministry’s mass organization sub directorate head, said the public should not force the ministry to take the responsibility as the authority belonged to the police.

“The police have taken all measures to deal with the incident. It’s too much to expect the Home Ministry to take the responsibility, particularly if people use the law [on mass organization] to put pressure on us,” Bachtiar said.
FPI spokesman Muchsin Alatas responded disdainfully to the calls from the House for his group’s disbandment, saying that the group would suspend their operations if lawmakers enforced the law and stopped being corrupt. “It’s the House that needs suspension because it has imposed a lot of suffering on the people through their corrupt actions,” he said.

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National Police move cautiously against FPI chairman

Yuliasri Perdani, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | National | Fri, July 26 2013, 9:05 AM
The National Police chief Gen. Timur Pradopo has ordered the force’s crime division to set up a special team to investigate whether the statement of hard-line Islam Defenders Front (FPI) chairman Rizieq Shihab, who called President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono a “loser”, could be seen as slander.

National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Ronny F. Sompie said on Thursday the team was looking to determine whether Rizieq’s insulting of the President could be deemed a criminal offense.
“The National Police will not sit and wait for a report [to start an investigation] since this concerns the honor of the country’s highest leader. We will use the law that carries provisions against insults or misdemeanors,” Ronny said.

Rizieq issued a statement on Monday, calling Yudhoyono “a loser who spread slanderous statements and stayed tight-lipped about maksiat [immoral practices]”.
He was referring to a press statement by Yudhoyono on Sunday in which he criticized the FPI for committing vigilante acts.

The President reprimanded the firebrand group following a clash between FPI members and local residents of Sukorejo in Kendal, Central Java, which claimed a life and injured three. The riot broke out following the FPI’s attempts to conduct a sweep of the village’s alleged red-light district on Thursday.Articles 134, 136 and 137 of the Criminal Code stipulate an individual who insults the president orvice president faces a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment and Rp 300 million (US$29,100) in fines.

The police, however, could not charge Rizieq with those articles as the Constitutional Court annulled the articles in 2006 on the grounds that they infringed freedom of expression.
Early this year, lawmakers proposed reinstating the articles.
The police may charge Rizieq with Article 335 on misdemeanor and articles 310 and 311 on defamation, which carry a maximum penalty of four years in prison. The police can only apply Article 335 based on a report.

Responding to mounting calls for the disbandment of the FPI, Cabinet Secretary Dipo Alam said the government would not resort to such action because the organization itself had never been formally registered.“The FPI is just like an informal forum where people get together and hang out,” he said at the State Palace.

Home Minister Gamawan Fauzi, however, rejected Dipo’s claim on Thursday, saying the FPI was a legal organization and was registered with the Home Ministry.
“It is registered with the Directorate General for the Nation’s Unity and Politics in our ministry. It is a legal mass organization,” Gamawan told reporters on Thursday.
Earlier, Gamawan said his ministry could not yet enforce the newly endorsed Mass Organization Law against the FPI, because it did not take effect until early next month pending the issuance of a government regulation for its implementation.

The Mass Organization Law mandates the government to issue three reprimands to any groups causing public disturbances before finally lodging a formal request of temporary suspension to the Supreme Court.The Kendal clash and Rizieq’s statements have stirred public outrage against the FPI, with some figures and lawmakers urging the disbandment of the group, using the newly-enacted law.

On Wednesday, several hackers managed to deface the FPI’s official website
Bowing to pressure, Rizieq on Wednesday delivered an apology to the family of Tri Munarti, a pregnant woman who was killed in the clash.

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FPI apologizes to victims of clash

Bagus BT Saragih and Margareth S. Aritonang, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | National | Thu, July 25 2013, 7:46 AM
Chairman of the hard-line Islam Defenders Front (FPI), Rizieq Shihab, has apologized to the family of the woman who died during a clash between members of the hardline group and locals in Kendal, Central Java, and instructed all of the organization’s members not to engage in raids and vandalism.
“On behalf of the FPI, I apologize to the victims. May the deceased be accepted by Allah, and the injured be blessed with a speedy recovery,” Riziek said in a statement issued on Wednesday.

He also said that the FPI would pay compensation to the victim’s family. “The FPI will pay for the education of the victim’s son until he gets his bachelor’s degree. We will give Rp 500,000 [$50] each month,” he said.Rizieq also promised any of FPI members who were involved in violence could face legal charges and be dismissed from the organization.
He also said that the FPI would withdraw a police report it filed against locals who allegedly assaulted FPI members or damaged its properties. “But if they were provocateurs who were actually responsible for the incident, the FPI would ask the police to continue legal processes against them.”

Kendal native Tri Munarti, who was pregnant, was killed in the fatal clash last week.
She and her husband were on a motorbike when a vehicle allegedly driven by FPI members hit them. Three other people were also injured.
The FPI members were reportedly attempting to flee an angry mob that ran amok following the FPI’s raids of a red-light district in Sukorejo, Central Java.

Following the incident, Central Java police named seven suspects, three of whom were FPI members.In his statement, Rizieq pledged no FPI member would conduct any kind of violent acts again in the future. “FPI members are strictly prohibited from conducting sweeps and destruction of public property, let alone causing death,” he said.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, several hackers managed to deface the FPI’s official website
On early Wednesday, the homepage of the site was turned into a picture of a woman in a hijab with a darkened background.
Minutes later, the picture turned into a “fearsome long-haired ghost” with a text “Hacked by Besideo7. Serius, gan [Serously, Sir]?”. Then all the backgrounds changed to white with before “The FPI has offended the law”, and “Under maintenance forever by fake admin FPI” appeared

Later on Wednesday, the top panel of the website was replaced with a banner of JKT48, a 51-member girl group, who are wildly popular among male teen.
In a related development, Home Ministry Gamawan Fauzi said that his ministry could not enforce the newly endorsed Law on Mass Organizations against the FPI yet, because it could not take effect until early next month pending the issuance of a government regulation for its implementation.

The Mass Organization Law mandates the government to issue three reprimands to any groups causing public disturbance before finally lodging a formal request of temporary suspension to the Supreme Court.Cabinet Secretary Dipo Alam, meanwhile, said that the government would not be able to disband the FPI because the organization itself had never been formally registered.
“The FPI is just like an informal forum where people get together and hang out,” he said at the State Palace.

Separately, Deputy Chairwoman of the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) Melanie Leimena Suharli has joined other lawmakers calling for suspension of radical groups, including the FPI, but encouraged to seek support from the country’s largest Islamic organizations, Nahdatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah.“Support from both groups is important because they have a large number of followers. Once they make the move, all of their followers will follow suit, which make efforts to suspend FPI finally work,” Leimena of the Democratic
Party said.

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Activists Concerned FPI Backlash Will Quiet Mass Organizations Law Protest
Stronger law enforcement, not mass organizations bill, needed to crackdown on Indonesia's hard-line Islamists
By Markus Junianto Sihaloho on 11:35 am July 28, 2013. The Jakarta Globe.
As pressures mounts for the government to disband a notorious hard-line Muslim group, one activist expressed concerns about how it should be done.
Ray Rangkuti from pro-democracy group, the Indonesian Civil Circle (LIMA), said many have called the government to implement the controversial Mass Organization Law and use it to disband the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI).
Members of the hard-line group more than a week ago clashed with residents of Kendal, Central Java, over a raid on what the FPI said was a brothel operating during the Ramadan fasting month.
Outnumbered, FPI members attempted to flee using a hired truck, but the vehicle hit and killed a bystander, which only served to further fuel local residents’ anger.Days after the clash, 50 members of the Makassar chapter of the FPI wrecked a small shop serving beer in Makassar, South Sulawesi.The incident was captured on video and uploaded to YouTube, causing a sensation online. Police subsequently arrested three men allegedly involved in the attack.
Home Affairs Minister Gamawan Fauzi said on Thursday that the group, implicated in a long history of vandalism cases across the country, has disrupted public order and could be permanently disbanded under the new law.But Ray said that using the law to disband the FPI would be a setback to pro-democracy groups’ struggle to have it repealed.
It will legitimize the Mass Organization Law as if it has been socially accepted,” he said on Saturday.Last month, a divided House of Representatives enacted the law, despite arguments that it would restrict freedom of assembly and could pave the way for a crackdown of organizations critical to the government.
Right now, NGOs [nongovernmental organizations] are trying hard to get the law repealed through legal and political channels. Using the Mass Organization Law to disband the FPI will undo those efforts,” Ray said.Ray said the government should use other means to dissuade the hard-line group from future acts of violence by ensuring that members who violate the law are no longer be granted impunity and lenient punishment.
In 2011, a court in Bekasi, West Java, gave light sentences to 13 FPI members, including the local head Murhali Barda, who is linked to an attack on members of a Protestant church congregation.Murhali was sentenced to five months and 15 days in jail for “unpleasant conduct.”
Golkar Party politician Agun Gunandjar Sudarsa agreed that better law enforcement is key, saying that disbanding the FPI using the Mass Organization Law would only lead group members to form another hard-line organization under a new name.
These incidents will continue if the government is not consistent in upholding the law,” he said.National Police chief Gen. Timur Pradopo said the police were developing several vandalism cases of FPI becoming involved in incidents in Kendal and Makassar.
Still, many have criticized the police’s protracted investigation, saying that they are not taking action fast enough.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has said that he will not use his authority to disband the FPI without first consulting the country’s major Islamic organizations.

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SBY Won’t Disband FPI Without Islamic Support, Democrat Says

By Carlos Paath on 11:00 am July 27, 2013. The Jakarta Globe.
A prominent politician says the president will not use his authority to disband a hard-line Islamic group notorious for its vigilante antics without first consulting with the country’s major Muslim organizations.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s decision to consult with the religious-based organizations Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah was disclosed by senior Democratic Party legislator politician Melanie Leimena Suharly.“The president will probably take action if all elements, especially NU and Muhammadiyah, agree that the FPI needs to be disbanded,” Melanie said on Friday, referring to the Islamic Defenders Front.She said that despite the president having the full authority to disband the FPI, he did not want to make a careless decision or break the law.
We don’t want to see the president ready to [disband] but then be opposed by other elements. The president wants everything to be done based on agreements from all elements in the public because he doesn’t want to violate the law or human rights,” she said.The government is facing mounting pressure to disband the hard-line organization following its attempt last week to raid a suspected brothel in Kendal, Central Java, which resulted in a clash with locals in which an innocent motorist was killed.
Three FPI members have been arrested and charged in the incident, including the driver of the car involved in the hit-and-run on the motorist.The deadly incident sparked public outrage, particularly in light of the FPI’s long history of conducting vigilante raids and the police’s repeated reluctance to prosecute the group. Even president was compelled to speak out following the latest act of violence.
On Monday, Yudhoyono published a Facebook post urging the FPI to refrain from using violence.
I call on my brothers in the FPI to stop their use of violence and taking justice in their own hands,” the president said.“The way to fight sinful activities and religious deviants should not be done by doing something that is more deviant. I’m sure the FPI can do many things that are better and more useful for the people and our society,” he added.
However, the FPI responded to Yudhoyono’s statement by publishing a controversial retort from its chairman, Rizieq Shihab, on its website.“It’s a pity. SBY appears to be … a mere loser who likes spreading lies and remaining silent about sinful activities. Not to mention, he’s been protecting the Ahmadiyah and [individuals involved in] various corruption scandals. This Muslim president is a disgrace to Islamic teachings,” Rizieq’s statement said.
He added that Yudhoyono could criticize the FPI all he wanted.
Because SBY is the chairman of the most corrupt party, he is causing people to lose and suffer. Worse than that, according to Yudhoyono’s former minister, the president never prays. Those two points mean he’s not only hurting Islam, but betraying Islam,” Rizieq said.
The National Police confirmed on Thursday that they had set up a special task force to investigate Rizieq for possible defamation of the head of state.
The chief of the criminal investigation division has established an investigation team under orders from the National Police chief,” National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Ronny F. Sompie said as quoted by the Antara news agency on Thursday.
The National Police have decided to directly investigate the issue without waiting for a report [to be filed] because it concerns our country’s highest leader.”Ronny said that the special investigation team would collect all of Rizieq’s statements, both in print and online, to construct a legal case.“Regarding the law that will be used [to charge Rizieq], it will depend on the facts. We will find which law best regulates the alleged violation,” he said.
Ronny said that the police were obliged to investigate the case even if the president did not press charges.Democratic Party politician Ruhut Sitompul, who is also a lawyer, said that Rizieq could be sued for defamation.
Melanie lamented Rizieq’s statement, saying that it was wrong for him to attack the head of state.However, Saleh Partaonan Daulay, chairman of the youth wing of Muhammadiyah, the country’s second-biggest Islamic organization, called on the president not to overreact regarding the Kendal incident.
The controversy actually benefits FPI because it continues to be a topic of discussion and news,” he said.Saleh said that the president did not have to respond in public and that he should have just ordered the police to take firm action against everyone involved in the incident.He said that because the FPI was part of the public, it should be legally processed whenever it violated the law or caused a public disturbance.

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