As the leader of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), Habib Rizieq has been at the forefront of the protests against Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama over his alleged blasphemy against the Quran (he was even called by the police as an “expert witness” while they were investigating Ahok’s case). Now Rizieq may face blasphemy charges himself as he has been officially reported to the police for insulting Christianity.
The police report was filed by the leaders of the Indonesian Catholic Students Association (PMKRI) yesterday. In the report, PMKRI said that comments made by Rizieq on Sunday (ie Christmas Day) during a speech in Pondok Kelapa, East Jakarta, had offended the religious beliefs of Christians and that they violated Article 156 of the Criminal Code on blasphemy (the very same article that Ahok has been charged under).
As evidence of Rizieq’s blasphemy, PMKRI submitted video of the speech he gave on Christmas, which they had acquired from it being shared on social media, in which the FPI leader made the following comments:
“… If they say ‘Merry Christmas’ to me then what does it mean? It means congratulations on the birth of Jesus Christ as the son of God. I answer, yalid wa lam lam yulad meaning Allah did not give birth and was not begotten. If God gave birth, then who was the midwife?”
“He stated ‘If God gave birth, then who was the midwife?’ And then we heard a lot of laughter from the congregation over what Habib Rizieq has said,” said PMKRI chairman Angelo Wake Kako at the headquarters of the Jakarta Police’s Criminal Investigation Division on Monday as quoted by RMOL.
In addition to feeling insulted by his remarks, Angelo said that PMKRI believed that Rizieq’s remarks spread hatred and religious intolerance.
The report filed by PMKRI also named the owner of Instagram account @fauzi_ahmad_fiiqolby and Twitter account @sayarea for spreading Rizieq’s allegedly blasphemous speech through social media in violation of Indonesia’s Law on Electronic Information and Transactions (UU ITE).
Rizieq has not responded to the report yet but FPI Jakarta secretary general and lawyer Habib Novel denied the charges and said they could not be considered blasphemy based on a prior MUI fatwa forbidding Muslims from saying Merry Christmas.
Novel also said that Rizieq was a model Muslim who was very involved in interfaith dialogue. Therefore, he said that FPI would report PMKRI to the police for defamation.
PMKRI leader Angelo said that he hoped that the police would treat Rizieq’s case with the same seriousness that they treated other blasphemy cases.
“During our monitoring it seems like his people can be quite immune from the law. There are many reports from the public but the government and the police response seems slow,” Angelo said as quoted by Kompas.
Sukmawati Soekarnoputri, daugher of Indonesia’s founding father Sukarno, reported Rizieq to police for insulting her father and Pancasila in October. Police have promised to investigate her report but have yet to formally charge the FPI leader with any crimes. The government also blocked Rizieq’s personal website for spreading extremist content, but he was never charged with violating any laws.