The main takeaway from Saturday’s meeting Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) leader and pornography case fugitive Rizieq Shihab’s and likely presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto and National Mandate Party (PAN) board of trustees chairman Amien Rais in Saudi Arabia — other than the possible formation of an Islamic-based party coalition in the 2019 election — is that their group’s next crusade will be against social media network Instagram over some removed photos.
The photos, which feature Rizieq being flanked by Prabowo, Amien Rais and other followers as they sat on the floor in seemingly jovial spirits, were first posted to Amien Rais’ Instagram account @amienraisofficial. However, not long after they were put up, Instagram removed the photos for breaching community guidelines.
Kapitra Ampera, one of Rizieq’s lawyers, said his client is taking the removal of the photos seriously and is intent on suing Instagram to an international court (though which one was not specified).
“This is our momentum. Gather all of the accounts that have been suspended with the warning that they did not meet [Instagram’s] standards for posting several regular photos of HRS (Rizieq), because we will mobilize our legal team to process this even up to the international court,” read a message from Rizieq to Kapitra that the latter showed to the Indonesian press that was picked up by Detik yesterday.
IG akhirnya menghapus kembali berkali-berkali secara sepihak semua foto yang kami upload, yang berkaitan dengan tokoh tertentu. Ini bukti bahwa kebebasan berekspresi (yang bertanggung jawab) yang menjadi salahsatu agenda reformasi kembali diciderai; mengembalikan kita pada era yang represif (order baru), di tengah-tengah kebijakan-kebijakan populis yang palsu (order lama). Kita semua menantikan terang setelah zaman-zaman gelap, bukan sebaliknya! Mari #selamatkanindonesia
In the caption above, the admin for @amienraisofficial (it has since been established that the politician does not handle his own account) vaguely suggested that the powers that be in Indonesia are somehow at fault for the removal of the photos, saying, “This is proof that freedom of expression is one of the reform agendas that has become a casualty; we are being taken back to the repressive era (New Order), in the middle of false populist policies (Old Order). We all long for the light in the dark, not the other way around! Let’s #saveIndonesia.”
Amien Rais’ daughter, Hanum Rais, doubled down on the conspiracy theory, tweeting, without providing any evidence, that those in power have asked Instagram to create a face detection algorithm for Rizieq Shihab so that his photos can be automatically removed from the social media platform.
Truth is: IG telah dipesan oleh "pemesan yang berkuasa" untuk membuat algoritma face detect utk HRS jadi bukan karna di report rame2, tapi memang sistem bekerja, terutama jika engagement tinggi (jumlah like dan komen) mesin akan memghapus
— Hanum Rais (@hanumrais) June 3, 2018
The Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), one of the parties lined up to join a potential coalition to back Prabowo in 2019, is less vague in placing the blame on President Joko Widodo for the removal of the photos.
This is part of a panic that led to blunder after blunder [by the current administration] that is actually strengthening the #2019GantiPresiden movement,” said PKS Central Leadership Board Chairman Mardani Ali Sera, referring to the hashtag movement created by the opposition to have Jokowi replaced as president next year, as quoted by Detik today.
A representative for Instagram told Detik yesterday that they are looking into why the photos were removed, but said it was likely the result of user reports against the photos.
Of course, this is not the first time Rizieq’s FPI has had issues with “Western” media over the removal of posts and accounts. Back in December, the group called on Muslims to boycott Facebook and create an alternative social media platform (which never materialized). Since Instagram is owned by Facebook, will there be calls for boycott against the photo sharing platform this time around?