The government has officially banned Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), a senior minister said today, as the hardline group no longer has legal standing as a civil society organization (locally referred to as mass organizations or ormas for short).
Coordinating Legal, Political, and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD said in a press conference today that all activities by and/or related to FPI are outlawed with immediate effect.
“The government is banning all FPI activities and will stop any FPI activities because they no longer have legal standing, either as an ormas or as an ordinary organization,” Mahfud said.
During the same press conference, Deputy Justice and Human Rights Minister Edward Omar Sharif Hiariej noted that 29 FPI members have been convicted of terrorism while 100 others have been convicted for other crimes. Furthermore, members of the group have been enforcing their hardline Islamic values, such as their infamous raids on entertainment establishments, even though the group’s legal status have been up in the air for over a year.
FPI’s official ormas permit expired in June 2019. the government rejected FPI’s application to renew its ormas permit but said that the group would be allowed to function as a community rather than a legally recognized organization while inviting FPI to file another application.
But the recent controversies by the group following the return of its leader Rizieq Shihab, including the deadly December shootout that killed six FPI members, likely quashed any hopes of the group obtaining legal recognition.
FPI has yet to indicate whether or not to challenge the ban, but called the government’s decision “unfair” while pointing out that the group often carries out social work, especially in disaster-hit areas.
FPI is not the first hardline Islamic group to be dissolved under President Jokowi’s administration. In 2017, the president’s administration unilaterally banned the radical group Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI), arguing that doing so was necessary to maintain the country’s security and pluralist ideologies — particularly as HTI’s aim was to establish an Islamic caliphate and the organization had been linked to numerous terrorist attacks throughout Indonesia, including the 2002 Bali bombings and the 2016 bomb attack in Jakarta.