Banned FPI to be reborn as Islamic Brotherhood Front

File Photo: Members of the hardline Islamist group FPI protesting in Jakarta in 2016. Photo: Reuters
File Photo: Members of the hardline Islamist group FPI protesting in Jakarta in 2016. Photo: Reuters

We’re saving our shocked Pikachu meme for another day as the banned Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) announces that it is returning with an inevitable rebranding.

The hardline group says it will soon return with a new name, which will enable it to keep its famous acronym.

“The name is changing to Front Persaudaraan Islam (Islamic Brotherhood Front), God willing,” FPI legal representative Aziz Yanuar said today.

On Dec. 30, the government officially banned all activities by and/or related to FPI, as the hardline group failed to renew its expired civil society organization (locally referred to as mass organizations or ormas for short) permit while continuing to promote radicalism and be linked to terrorist activities.

Following announcement of the ban, the group’s leaders immediately declared a new group named Front Persatuan Islam (United Islam Front). However, a week on, Aziz said the group will instead settle on the Islamic Brotherhood Front name.

Aziz added that the group is consolidating its tenets before it can make an official declaration as a new organization. It remains to be seen how organizationally different the new FPI will be to the old FPI, and whether or not the former will be affected by the government’s ban.

FPI’s official civil society organization permit expired in June 2019. The government rejected FPI’s application to renew its ormas permit but said that the group would be allowed to function as a community rather than a legally recognized organization while inviting FPI to file another application.

But recent controversies by the group following the return of its leader Rizieq Shihab, including the deadly December shootout that killed six FPI members, likely quashed any hopes of the group obtaining legal recognition. 

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