Group demands Jakarta Gov. Anies step down for not defending FPI leader Rizieq, burns his photo at demo

Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan speaking to members of the hardline Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) during his campaign on Jan 2, 2017. FPI leader Rizieq Shihab is sitting to his right. Photo: Dokumentasi Tim Anies Baswedan
Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan speaking to members of the hardline Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) during his campaign on Jan 2, 2017. FPI leader Rizieq Shihab is sitting to his right. Photo: Dokumentasi Tim Anies Baswedan

A group calling themselves the Revolutionary Islamic Forum (FUIR) held a small demonstration in front of Jakarta City Hall yesterday afternoon demanding that Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan resign over his failure to defend Rizieq Shihab, the spiritual leader of the hardline Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) who is currently a fugitive from Indonesian justice hiding in Saudi Arabia.

“Muslims today feel that Anies [and Vice Governor Sandiaga Uno] have begun to abandon the clerical struggle,” said one speaker at the demo, Dhany Lesy, as quoted by Detik yesterday.

Read also: Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan was clearly ‘only using’ FPI leader Rizieq Shihab to win election, says ex-212 alumni leader

Dhany went on to say that Anies fully owed his victory to Muslims but that he was now staying silent when Rizieq, the so-called high priest of all Indonesian Muslims (which isn’t a real thing FYI), was being criminalized. 

Dhany’s saying that Muslims and Rizieq in particular were responsible for Anies’ victory in the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election is of course a reference to the massive protests against former Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, organized by Islamists with Rizieq at the forefront. While ostensibly meant to “defend Islam” against Ahok’s alleged blasphemy, many participants have since admitted it was primarily politically motivated (also so they could take credit for Anies’ victory).

Shortly after Ahok was sentenced to two years at the conclusion of his controversial blasphemy trial (in which Rizieq testified as an “expert” witness), the FPI leader was named a suspect in a high-profile pornography case by the Jakarta Police and has been hiding in Saudi Arabia ever since.

Anies, who once spoke at an FPI meeting beside Rizieq while campaigning for governor, has sought to distance himself from the accusation that he cozied up to Islamists to win the election and has indeed not spoken about the firebrand cleric in any way since taking office.

To show their displeasure over Anies’ reluctance to defend Rizieq, the FUIR demonstrators held up signs yesterday with messages like “Ulema (Islamic scholars) attacked, Anies is just quiet” and “Anies is just rhetoric”. They also symbolically burned a photo of the governor (attached to a bird cage, for some reason). The demo dispersed shortly after that.

Despite Islamist leaders connected to FPI having made similarly bitter comments about being “used” by Anies for political purposes in the past, one FPI spokesman lamely defended the governor from FUIR’s accusations by saying that Anies was helping Rizieq “in his own way”.

But who is FUIR exactly? A representative of another major Islamist group, the Islamic People’s Forum (FUI), said that his group had no knowledge of FUIR, which appeared seemingly out of nowhere for this protest, and alleged that FUIR was a fake group secretly made by Ahok supporters.

Similar accusation can be seen in this meme going around social media accusing the protesters of being “fake Muslims” and cebongers (a term for Ahok supporters) in disguise.

Source: Muhammad Zakaria Bin Saad > ‎KEDAULATAN RAKYAT 6 (KR6) Facebook group

The so-called “alumni” of the 212 anti-Ahok protest movement have made attempts at consolidating into political actions groups in order to similarly effect this year’s regional elections, but have been plagued with in-fighting and recriminations, some due in part to Rizieq not returning to Indonesia despite claiming he would do so numerous times.

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