Habib Rizieq Shihab, the grand imam of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), has become an increasingly loud voice for intolerance and hatred in Indonesia as he leads a coalition of hardline Islamist groups in pressuring authorities to persecute Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, a Chinese Christian, for his alleged blasphemy against Islam.
The spreading of hateful messages, particularly towards one’s religion and/or race, is a crime in Indonesia, in accordance to the Criminal Code (KUHP) and the Information and Electronic Transactions Act (UU ITE). It seems that, for that reason, the government has moved to block Habib Rizieq’s official website this weekend.
In a leaked memo, the government asked Internet Service Providers (ISP) in Indonesia to block the website, which is registered under the domain www.habibrizieq.com. The memo, which went viral online and was published by Vivanews, made a request to ISPs to block the website on the grounds that it spreads “illegal content”.
“It’s true, we have sent the request to ISPs last night (Saturday),” confirmed IT Ministry Spokesman Noor Iza to Vivanews yesterday.
“[The block] was a collaborative request from various agencies, such as the BNPT (the National Counterterrorism Agency), the National Police, and BIN (the National Intelligence Agency).”
Noor didn’t go into details as to how Habib Rizieq’s website spread illegal content. But it seems that not all ISPs have blocked the website as of writing, and those who can still access it (including us) can see that the website contains radical content.
Despite the government finding enough illegal elements to block Habib Rizieq’s website, there have not yet been any indication that authorities would arrest him on the grounds of inciting hatred.
That said, Habib Rizieq was reported to the police last month for allegedly insulting the state ideology of Pancasila and founding father Soekarno during one of his sermons in West Java two years ago. The case is being handled by the West Java Police, and, if found guilty, Habib Rizieq may be sentenced to up to four years in prison for defamation.