Jakarta Police Chief ‘swears upon Allah’ there is no conspiracy to criminalize Muslim clerics

A banner displayed during a football match at  Stadion Patriot Bekasi on Sunday which reads “Stops Criminalization of the Ulema – We stand with HRS (Habib Rizieq Shihab)”
A banner displayed during a football match at Stadion Patriot Bekasi on Sunday which reads “Stops Criminalization of the Ulema – We stand with HRS (Habib Rizieq Shihab)”

Lawyers for Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab, currently hiding from Indonesian authorities in Saudi Arabia after being named a suspect by the Jakarta Police in a high-profile pornography case, say he can’t return to Indonesia now because there is a grand conspiracy, orchestrated by senior political figures like President Joko Widodo and former President Megawati Soekarnoputri, to criminalize the ulemas (Muslim clerics).

The head of the Jakarta Police, Chief Irjen M Iriawan, today denied that any such conspiracy to criminalize clerics existed and certainly had no bearing on their investigation into Rizieq’s pornography case.

“Why would we do that? It is not allowed, that would be a great sin. We are merely enforcing the law. I swear upon Allah, it is not so. If it was true it would be a huge sin. The ulemas are our role models,” Iriawan said yesterday as quoted by Wartakota.

The Jakarta Police chief said it would be impossible to fabricate their case against Rizieq as they had gotten testimony from numerous expert witnesses who had authenticated the evidence used in the case (i.e. the nude photos and Whatsapp chat logs).

He also noted that the chairman of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), Ma’ruf Amin, as well as Vice President Jusuf Kalla, both denied there was any ulema criminalization conspiracy.

It is unlikely that any expert testimony or sacred oaths could convince Rizieq’s supporters that the case against him, in which he has been charged under the same illiberal pornography law that he helped create, was not engineered by his enemies. A group of his supporters even met with the Indonesian Human Rights Council (Komnas HAM) to ask that they investigate the criminalization of the ulemas including Rizieq, Bachtiar Nasir, Munarman, and MUI chairman Ma’ruf Amin (who already said there was no criminalization). Sadly, Komnas HAM agreed to investigate.

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