It’s been awhile since we’ve heard from Rizieq Shihab, the spiritual leader of the hardline Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) who has been hiding in Saudi Arabia since May after the Jakarta Police named him a suspect in a hilariously ironic pornography investigation. His lawyers have promised he would return to Indonesia numerous times in the past (most recently after the conclusion of the Hajj pilgrimage) but every time he has failed to do so.
But after that latest failure to return to Indonesia, Rizieq himself said he’d rather stay in Saudi and be called a coward than return to Indonesia and get arrested, suggesting he’s planning on going nowhere until the charges against him (which the FPI leader says are baseless and part of a government plot to criminalize Islamic preachers) are dropped.
You might be wondering how Rizieq has managed to stay in Saudi Arabia for so long, despite the notorious difficulty of getting visas to enter the country and his lack of income to pay for his expenses. Well, according to one of his lawyers, Eggi Sudjana, Rizieq is staying in Saudi Arabia as a guest of the government and is even having all of his living expense paid for by them.
Why would Saudi Arabia be willing to do all of that for Rizieq? According to Eggi, it’s because Rizieq is a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad himself.
“He has been declared to be the 39th descendant of the Prophet Muhammad or something like that. His lineage is clear. And according to the Kingdom of Saudi’s government, if somebody is related to the Messenger of Allah, guaranteed all (of his needs will be taken care of) by the government,” Eggi said on Tuesday as quoted by Republika.
Eggi (who has recently been accused of hate speech himself) also said that Rizieq has gotten a lot of help from his colleagues and fellow alumni in Saudi Arabia (as he had once attended King Saud University).
Rizieq’s lawyer said the Saudi government was treating the FPI leader well, as demonstrated by the comforts and security he has received during his stay in the Holy Land.
Despite Eggi’s insistence, the Saudi Government has never officially voiced its support for Rizieq nor his lineage to the Prophet, but many have suggested that he must have received a special visa unavailable to the general public to have been able to stay in the country for so long.
The Jakarta Police have not announced any plans to extradite Rizieq from Saudi Arabia and for now are simply waiting for him to return to Indonesia for the pornography charges against him to be processed.
Rizieq was named a suspect for his alleged pornographic chats with a woman he is not married to named Firza Husein. Chat logs and photos pertaining to their alleged affair were leaked to the public via a website in January.