FPI ‘arrests’ man they say insulted their leader Rizieq Shihab, deliver him to police who are now interrogating him

FPI leader Rizieq Syihab during a sermon in which he claimed that the new Indonesian rupiah bills contain hidden communist symbols. Screengrab: FPI TV / Youtube
FPI leader Rizieq Syihab during a sermon in which he claimed that the new Indonesian rupiah bills contain hidden communist symbols. Screengrab: FPI TV / Youtube

Rizieq Shihab, the founder and leader of the hardline Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) remains a fugitive from Indonesian law hiding in Saudi Arabia, even after being named “high priest of the Indonesian people” by his followers at the 212 anti-Ahok protest reunion on Saturday. But even in his absence, his followers are fiercely defending his honor, and last night they crossed a line that many would argue is illegal, by saying they “arrested” a man who they suspect insulted Rizieq on social media.

The director of the Legal Aid Institute of Bang Japar (LBH Bang Japar), a civil society and legal organization officially formed in August claiming to represent the interests of Jakarta’s indigenous Betawi people, said a member of the group along with a member of the FPI “arrested” the man, identified by the police by his initials AS after he allegedly posted insulting messages about Rizieq on Facebook.

“The person who insulted (Rizieq) on social media has been arrested by a member of Japar named Endin, together with a member of the FPI,” LBH Bang Japar head Juju Purwantoro in a statement today as quoted by Detik.

Shortly after that statement was released though, Juju contradicted himself when contacted by Kumpuran for a clarification, changing his story to say that the police were actually the ones who detained and arrested AS and that they had only tracked him down and “supervised” the operation.

Why would he change his statement? Perhaps because he realized that neither Bang Japar nor FPI has absolutely no legal right to arrest anybody for any reason, defamation or otherwise? We’ll let you decide.

At any rate, the Central Jakarta Police have confirmed that they have proceeded with AS’s defamation interrogation.

“What is clear is that there were postings (on social media). He is being interrogated,” said Central Jakarta Police Detective Reskrim Jakarta Central Police Tahan Marpaung when asked for confirmation today.

Tahan noted that an allegation of defamation should be reported by the victim (which of course Rizieq cannot do since he’s hiding in Saudi Arabia) and without such a criminal report cannot be authorized.

Which makes it even more confusing as to why the police are interrogating AS, when a proper defamation report against him can’t even be filed since the supposed victim is a criminal fugitive hiding in another country.

The incident in some ways echoes an ugly incident from June in which a Jakarta teenager was tracked down by members of the FPI for allegedly posting insulting memes about Rizieq online and was forced to apologize after they abused and berated him at his home. Enormous public outcry eventually forced the police to go after the teen’s  persecutors.

We’ll just have to wait and see if that will be the case once more light is shed on this case.



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