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23 November 2020 (closed)
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On Monday morning (23/01) hundreds of Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) members conducted a protest march from the Al Azhar Mosque in South Jakarta to Police headquarters on Jalan Sudirman in Central Jakarta to protest against the questioning of FPI leader Rizieq Shihab. Jakarta Police summoned the FPI leader for questioning regarding a speech that was published on the FPI's YouTube channel.
In his speech, Shihab allegedly claims that Indonesia's new banknotes - released by the nation's central bank (Bank Indonesia) - feature the communist hammer and sickle symbol (which were also used by the disbanded Indonesian Communist Party, PKI, before 1966).
This speech went viral on social media in Indonesia. The Anti-Slander Youth Intellectual Network (JIMAF) group then filed a complaint at police about the alleged insulting language (toward Indonesia's rupiah). Earlier, Bank Indonesia Governor Agus Martowardojo had already rebuffed Shihab's claim, saying the central bank's logo was printed to protect the notes from counterfeiting.
Ever since Jakarta Governor Basuki Purnama Tjahja (Ahok) was reported to police (by, among others, the FPI) for allegedly insulting the Quran in a speech, religious and ethnic tensions have risen in Indonesia. Over the past couple of months various people (both political and religious leaders as well as several supporters) have been reported to police on claims of spreading hatred through videos that circulate on social media. Shihab is currently facing five separate charges. Besides the rupiah bank notes issue, he is also accused of blasphemy, insulting Pancasila, and hate speech. He had already been imprisoned twice - in 2003 and 2008 - for inciting hatred.
Shihab attended police questioning between 10-12 am local Jakarta time on Monday (23/01). A police spokesman said Shihab was questioned as a witness in an investigation. Police asked Shihab matters, such as whether the voice that is heard in the video is his voice, and what his intentions were when making the speech. With a big crowd of angry FPI protesters outside, local authorities deployed hundreds of police officers and soldiers to safeguard peace and public order.
Read more: Radical Islam in Indonesia
The Islamic Defenders Front (in Indonesian: Front Pembela Islam, or FPI) is a hardline Islamic organization in Indonesia. The organization often uses violence (or the threat of violence) in name of the Islam. It was established in 1998 by Shihab and aims to implement Islamic law (sharia law) in Indonesia. Often calls are heard to disband and ban the hardline organization as they do not respect the state's monopoly on violence, oppose pluralism as well as Indonesia's state philosophy (Pancasila).