FPI insists Feb 11 mass action is just a ‘healthy walk’, will still take place despite police objections

Yesterday, Jakarta Police officials said they would not give permission for a “mass action” being planned for February 11 by the National Movement to Safeguard the Indonesian Ulema Council’s Fatwa (GNPF-MUI), the body composed of hardliner organizations such as the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and the Muslim People’s Forum (FUI) that organized the massive protests against Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama in November and December. Police said the action would disturb the official “cooling off” period before next Wednesday’s governor election during which all campaign activities are legally prohibited.

But the hardliners have shrugged off the police’s warning that they would break up the mass action planned for Saturday. They are now arguing that “Aksi 112” (as local media are referring to it), which includes plans for participants to march from the Hotel Indonesia Roundabout to the National Monument (Monas) will only be a “healthy walk”, suggesting that it would not be disruptive or political in nature. 

“(Aksi 112) is a healthy walk, the organizer is the Muslim People’s Forum, FUI. Since FPI is a part of FUI, the FPI will participate in these activities,” said FPI spokesman Slamet Maarif last night as quoted by Detik.

Slamet also noted that the action was taking place the day before Feb 12, the official start date of the cooling off period declared by the General Elections Commission (KPU). But he said that FPI would ultimately follow the lead of FUI.

Speaking this morning, FUI secretary general M Al Khaththath echoed FPI’s “healthy walk” characterization of Aksi 112 and said that it would go forward because such actions were legally protected by the constitution.

“Aksi 112 is a healthy walk isn’t it, so there is no need to worry. We understand this is the quiet period of the elections, so we are committed to maintaining peace and tranquility until the elections are conducted,” Khaththath said as quoted by Jawa Pos National Network.

GNPF-MUI had previously stated plans to hold a Qur’anic recital event on Feb 12 as well as a mass prayer followed by collective poll monitoring for fraudulent voters on election day. Police have said that purely religious actions would be allowed but that anything political in nature was prohibited.

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