FPI leader Rizieq avoids police summons, goes back to Saudi Arabia, claims it’s ‘symbolic opposition’ to injustice: lawyer

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

Even as former Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama sits in his jail cell with little more than a Bible to keep him company, the man who helped put him there, Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab, continues to stay away from Indonesia in flagrant disregard to summons from the Jakarta Police over his involvement in a pornography case related to sex scandal accusations against the ultra-conservative cleric.

Rizieq missed a second police summons for questioning last week by claiming, through his lawyer, Sugito Atmo Pawiro, that he was in Saudi Arabia for the Umrah pilgrimage. In line with standard operating procedure, police threatened to forcibly detain Rizieq if he did not voluntarily answer a third summons. Rizieq’s representatives then told the media that the FPI leader would answer their summons, but first he would have to go to Malaysia to work on a doctoral dissertation. Police then issued the order to forcibly detain Rizieq and threatened to get Interpol involved in his detainment, which the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) said was “unnecessary”.

However, that was before Sugito said yesterday that his client had actually flown back to Saudi Arabia yet again, or his reason for doing so.

“The police have said that they would ask Interpol to file a ‘red notice’ [for Rizieq’s detainment’]. Since Malaysia is an [Interpol] partner, maybe Habib will find a place where there is no cooperation with Interpol,” Sugito told Detik yesterday.

Despite explicitly saying that he wanted to go to a country that didn’t cooperate with Interpol, Sugito said Rizieq’s return to Saudi Arabia was not to avoid the police, specifically.

“Oh no, Habib (an honorific title for a respected Islamic leader which Rizieq gave himself – ed) is not the type to escape from responsibility. It is only because there is legal manipulations related to the current process, it’s being politicized, so Habib will fight back,” Sugito said.

(So, Rizieq thinks that he is the one being attacked with baseless criminal charges because of political motives? Yeah, terrible when that happens to people…)

Sugito assured the media and officials that his client would eventually return to Indonesia, although he could not give a specific date. He said he wanted to return yesterday, but saw that the atmosphere was “not conducive” to his return which is why he delayed his return.

“So this is symbolic opposition to this incident of legal injustice,” Sugito said.

Well, let’s see how the Jakarta Police feel about the symbolism of Rizieq’s act of resistance a.k.a. running away and hiding in another country.

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