‘He was just using us’: FPI leader’s lawyer angry Anies Baswedan did not attend anti-Ahok protest anniversary

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

There is no doubt that the massive protests against former Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama in November and December of last year had a huge influence on this year’s gubernatorial race, which saw Ahok lose out to recently inaugurated Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan.

But Anies and many others who supported the protests against Ahok for his alleged blasphemy against the Quran have always maintained that the protests were purely a matter of religion and not politics.

And yet, it seems some of the Islamic hardliners who organized the protests not only understood that they were politically motivated but now say they were instrumental in getting Anies elected. Consequently, they are now pissed off that the new governor is not giving them the respect they deserve.

Saturday was the one-year anniversary of the Nov. 4 anti-Ahok protest (Aksi 411) that saw more than 100,000 people take to the street to protest the former governor and ended violently, with one police officer dead and 79 others injured.

To commemorate Aksi 411, a group known as the Presidium* Alumni 212 (made up of “alumni” of the even bigger December 2 anti-Ahok protest) held an anniversary event at the Al-Azhar Mosque in South Jakarta. Among the speakers was Eggi Sudjana, a legal advisor to the Presidium who is also famous for being the lawyer of infamous Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) leader and fugitive pornography suspect Rizieq Shihab.

(*Why Presidium? We’re really not sure, especially since the term is used almost exclusively by communist governments and we know how Indonesia’s Islamic hardliners feel about communists)

Eggi told reporters that he was extremely disappointed that Governor Anies did not attend the event, despite having been invited, nor even giving an excuse for his absence.

The FPI leader’s lawyer then invoked an Indonesian proverb to warn Anies, saying “Don’t be like the peanut that forgot its shell,” which is usually used to describe people who forget about their hometowns or generally where they came from.

“Do not let it be that the when the Muslims who supported him sincerely need his presence, he does not come. It means he was just using us,” Eggi said as quoted by Detik.

Eggi warned Anies not to forget about the people who supported him, because later only those people can help him, not his political parties.

According to Tempo, when asked about Eggi’s statements and why he didn’t attend the 411-anniversary event, Governor Anies simply smiled, shook his head and said (in English) “No comment”.

During his campaign, Anies was often criticized for his blatant attempts at wooing the support of Islamic hardliners like the FPI, such as when he was pictured speaking next to their leader Rizieq at an event in early January. However, he denied allegations he was pandering to Islamists and said he wanted to be a leader that united people instead of dividing them (like Ahok).

It is not surprising that Anies would not want to appear friendly with hardliners like the FPI or the Presidium Alumni 212 at the start of his time in office and is likely upset that Eggi reminded everybody how instrumental they were to his campaign victory. Another big test for Anies will come on December 2, when a much bigger anniversary event for the 212 protest is set to take place. Either his presence or absence at that event would likely lead to serious political consequences, so how much do you want to bet that he’ll just “coincidentally” have some other incredibly urgent business that day that excuses prevents him from attending?

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