Ahok shakes hands with Saudi’s King Salman, hilarious memes featuring FPI leader Rizieq all but inevitable

Jakarta Governor Ahok shaking hands with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman. Photo: Twitter/@basuki_btp
Jakarta Governor Ahok shaking hands with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman. Photo: Twitter/@basuki_btp

Among the many talking points on social media about yesterday’s arrival of Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdul Aziz to Indonesia (the huge size of his entourage, the possible impact on bilateral relations between our two countries, all those hot princes), there was probably no single moment more buzzed about than this:

Now, to give some context as to why this photo is such a big deal: The man on the right shaking King Salman’s hand is none other than Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama. Ahok, as many of us are already painfully well aware, has always been opposed by Islamic hardline groups in Indonesia because he’s a minority Chinese Christian holding one of the most influential political positions in the country. And then, of course, there is Ahok’s alleged blasphemy against Islam, something he is still currently on trial for.

King Salman, on the other hand, is the leader of a country that is home to two sacred sites for Muslims worldwide. For that reason, many Muslims in Indonesia have been reacting to his visit in a way that’s equivalent to a majority-Catholic nation receiving a visit from the Pope.

One group fanboying over Salman is the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), the hardline group that’s been leading the charge to have Ahok criminalized. In fact, their leader, Rizieq Shihab, recently pleaded with the House of Representatives (DPR) to grant the FPI an audience with Salman during his time here.

(For the record, the Foreign Affairs Ministry said Salman is scheduled to meet with leaders of legitimate religious organizations like Muhammadiyah, Nahdlatul Ulama and the Indonesian Ulema Council. FPI and Rizieq were not included in that list.)

Inevitably, many saw the irony in an alleged blasphemer shaking the hands of the king of Saudi Arabia instead of, say, people who say they are defending Islam. Indonesia being a meme-addicted country, it was only a matter of time before hilarious memes like these went viral online:


King Salman: I hope you go on to lead for two terms pak Ahok.
Ahok: Yes, your Highness the king.
Rizieq: Why am I upset?

These might just be netizens having a bit of fun, but it seems the FPI are actually rather upset that Salman met and shook hands with Ahok yesterday.

“It should’ve been Islamic figures who greeted King Salman, so that they can tell him about how Indonesia is being stepped on by infidel foreign powers,” said FPI Jakarta secretary general Habib Novel of “Fitsa Hats” fame, as quoted by JPNN.

Somebody want to send a bucket of ice to FPI headquarters? Because this burn is going to last a while.

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