FPI leader Rizieq Shihab says if you want LGBT banned and ‘pribumi’ to be prosperous, vote Prabowo-Sandiaga

Images: @RizieqSyihabFPI / Twitter
Images: @RizieqSyihabFPI / Twitter

After presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto signed an “integrity pact” for an Islamic hardliner political group on Sunday promising that, if he won, he would protect their interests in general and specifically that he would ensure the safe return of Rizieq Shihab, the fugitive founder of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), the controversial firebrand clerical wasted no time in taking to his social media account to post messages supporting Prabowo’s ticket featuring his usual flair for hateful rhetoric.



Rizieq’s official Twitter account posted a dozen of these memes telling his supporters that if they want to fulfill his particular vision for Indonesia, they should vote for Prabowo and his running mate Sandiaga Uno. The one above says “Want religious blasphemers to be punished? Want LGBT and immorality to be banned? Want corruption to be destroyed?” followed by the hashtag #2019GantiPresiden (#2019ReplaceThePresident) representing the controversial opposition movement. The image includes the words “Choose Prabowo-Sandiaga” along with the candidates pictures.


Another of the memes posted to his account yesterday says, “Want Pribumi [a controversial term for “native” Indonesians] to be prosperous in their own country? Want the poor to be protected? Want the little people to be well-off?”

Also among the questions asked in the ten other memes Rizieq posted by yesterday are “Want PKI [the long defunct Indonesian Communist Party] and LIBERAL to be banned?”, “Want education and health guaranteed?” (a pretty socialist sentiment for somebody so anti-communist…), “Want a country without high taxes?”, “Want a country not sold to foreigners” and “Want Islamic Sharia not to be harassed?”

Now to be fair, not all of these questions are representative of actual statements made by Prabowo or Sandiaga. For example, they have not taken any official position on the controversial issue of whether homosexuality should be made illegal (something many Indonesians do support).


But Prabowo did sign the “integrity pact” with GNPF (the National Movement to Guard the Ulama Fatwa, a hardliner-affiliated political group originally started to organize the massive protests against former Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama after a fatwa decreed he had committed blasphemy against Islam) in order to secure the support of Rizieq and his fellow Islamists who proved to be instrumental in Ahok’s defeat in the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial race and who Prabowo no doubt hopes can help him in the uphill battle he now faces against incumbent President Joko Widodo and his running mate, Indonesian Ulema Council head Ma’ruf Amin (who, we must note, has also expressed his support for criminalizing homosexuality but also said LGBT should not be discriminated against).

So by allowing Rizieq to clearly tie voting for Prabowo-Sandiaga with support for these statements, their campaign is essentially endorsing all of them (as if putting their photos on there didn’t make that clear enough). If they don’t agree with any them, they should be specifically and vocally denounced.

Rizieq is currently still in Saudi Arabia, where he has spent more than a year hiding from Indonesian law enforcement. Although police dropped his suspect status in the infamous pornography case that first led him to flee and stay out of his country, the FPI leader still has numerous legal cases at various stages pending against him including charges of blasphemy against Christianity and state symbols.

The “integrity pact” Prabowo signed for GNPF on Sunday said he would commit to “using the constitutional and attributive rights inherent in the position of president to carry out the rehabilitation process, ensure the safe return, and restore the rights of Habib Rizieq Shihab as an Indonesian citizen.”

The head of Indonesia’s national police said that even if Prabowo won the election, as president he did not have the power to intervene in specific legal cases, including Rizieq’s (perhaps that was what Prabowo was counting on).

Many thought that President Joko Widodo’s choice of Ma’ruf, the head of the country’s highest Islamic clerical body and the person who signed the blasphemy fatwa against Ahok that gave GNPF its name, would make voter mobilization via Islamic hardliners an unviable strategy for Prabowo. While that remains to be seen, obviously Prabowo believes it’s still worth cozying up to groups like GNPF, FPI and the like despite the fact he has made clear he is not an Islamist himself

But just as he distanced himself from musician Ahmad Dhani during the 2014 election after the former Indonesia Idol judge made a music video supporting him in which he wore a Nazi uniform, we hope Prabowo will have the good sense to at least distance himself from Rizieq’s hateful rhetoric, lest this election also devolve into a divisive battle filled with attacks on religion and race.

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