The Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), like every other political party in Indonesia, officially condemned last week’s horrific terrorist attacks in Indonesia. But the Islam-based opposition party (which holds enough seats in the Parliament that one of its senior officials might well end up being Gerindra chairman Prabowo Subinato’s running mate in the 2019 presidential election) has come under fire from some parties for their alleged support of terrorism and radicalism, the latest accusation coming from a former leader of one of Indonesia’s most prominent Islamist political organizations.
Faizal Assegaf, who was one of the founders of the political action group Presidium Alumni 212 (so named for having attended the massive 2/12 2016 protests against former Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama), was kicked out of his own organization earlier this year, and has since been been speaking out against some of his former group’s political allies, most especially PKS.
Yesterday, Faizal reported three senior PKS officials to the police for defaming him through social media: PKS President Sohibul Iman, former PKS President Anis Matta, PKS executive board chairman Mardani Ali Sera, as well as Deputy House Speaker Fahri Hamzah (who is officially an independent).
Faizal’s report was actually in response to a defamation report filed by the PKS board of East Java, which was done in response to social media comments Faizal had made about PKS officials in the wake of last week’s suicide bombings in Surabaya, accusing them of having terrorist sympathies and telling the police they should monitor them.
Mestinya Polri & pemerintah bertindak tegas, awasi kantor PKS di seluruh Jawa Timur.
Selidiki dugaan keterlibatan kader & loyalis PKS atas teror bom Gereja di Surabaya.
Jgn lengah, sikap nyinyiran mrk di medsos telah memicu aksi teroris makin agresif bertindak biadab !
— Faizal Assegaf (@faizalassegaf) May 13, 2018
“Initially I wrote a post asking that government and the police to do strict supervision on the PKS offices in East Java, because allegedly cadres and loyalists are exploiting the issue of terrorism, which created fertile grounds for radicalism,” Faizal said yesterday as quoted by Kompas.
That tweet, and many others that followed alleging PKS’ ties to terrorism, led to counter-allegations from PKS officials that Faizal was a liar and eventually an official defamation report against him.
Ditengah duka & keprihatinan bangsa karena rentetan kejadian teror ada pihak-pihak tidak bertanggung jawab yg justru
memperkeruh suasana dengan melakukan adu domba,fitnah dan ujaran kebencian.
Oleh sebab itu PKS kembali melaporkan pihak yang sengaja merusak kerukunan kita itu. pic.twitter.com/4X2MAl4FGG
— DPP PKS (@PKSejahtera) May 18, 2018
Faizal’s counter-report against the PKS officials says that their accusations that he was a slanderous liar were slanderous lies themselves (yes, the way the Indonesian legal system handles defamation charges is ridiculous) as he had proof of their terrorist sympathies
You can go to Faizal’s Twitter for much more, but one piece of evidence he keeps bringing up is a poem, entitled “Letter For Osama”, that was written by the party’s former president Anis Matta. The poem, which Anis was widely reported to have read in public in November 2001 (i.e. shortly after 9/11) during a fundraiser for the “struggle” in Afghanistan, effusively praises the now-deceased Al Qaeda leader. Here’s a rough translation of the opening stanza:
You never told me
That you wanted to blow up the WTC and Pentagon
Bush also has no proof until now
So I choose to believe
In the love that radiates
Behind the shade of your eyes
In the spirit of protection that is stored
Behind your beard.
And it keeps going from there….
In response to Faizal’s report, PKS chairman Mardani Ali Sera denied any charges that his party supported terrorism or radicalism. When asked about Anis Matta’s poem praising Osama Bin Laden, he said he didn’t know about it but was sure there was nothing wrong with it.
“But I am sure that if we see the context, we would understand the meaning of Pak Anis Matta, Islam rahmatan lil alamin (Islam is a religion that brings blessings and welfare to the whole world),” he said today as quoted by Detik.
Faizal is far from the only person who has accused PKS of supporting and harboring radical groups in the wake of last week’s terror attacks. Just a day after the church bombings in Surabaya, hundreds of activists marched to the party’s headquarters in South Jakarta to protest its leaders for using religion and radicalism for political purposes and demand that police closely monitor PKS officials and supporters.