Over 110K sign petition asking government not to renew Islamic Defenders Front’s permit, which expires June 20

Members of the hardline group Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), which advocates for the implementation of sharia law throughout Indonesia, during a march in January 2017. Photo: REUTERS/Darren Whiteside
Members of the hardline group Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), which advocates for the implementation of sharia law throughout Indonesia, during a march in January 2017. Photo: REUTERS/Darren Whiteside

Indonesia’s most infamous hardline Islamist group, the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), is, in many ways, Indonesia’s equivalent to the rising alt-right movements in other countries. To many, the group has come to represent the country’s rising religious intolerance through their radical actions such as carrying out violent vigilante raids on minorities, threatening Lady Gaga into canceling her Jakarta concert and leading the protest movement against former Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama that led to his imprisonment — the last of which saw the group gain far greater clout and political influence in recent years.

One Indonesian citizen, named Ira Bisyir, seems to have had enough of the group and noticed something that many in Indonesia had not —  namely, that FPI’s official permit as a civil society organization (referred to in Indonesia as “mass organizations” or ormas for short) is expiring very soon.

On Monday, Ira started a petition on change.org asking that the government not renew FPI’s permit. As of this morning, over 110K people have signed the petition and that number is only expected to grow as the petition grows in virality by the day.

Permits for ormas are under the jurisdiction of the Home Affairs Ministry. When asked about the petition, Home Affairs Minister Tjahjo Kumolo said he wasn’t aware that FPI’s permit was expiring.

“There has not been any application [for renewal] by the FPI,” Tjahjo told Liputan 6 yesterday evening.

Tjahjo did not say whether or not the government would entertain Ira’s petition. According to the Home Affairs Ministry’s website, FPI’s permit expires on June 20.

FPI Chairman Sobri Lubis said the organization is currently preparing their application for permit renewal and lambasted those who wished to see them gone.

“Maybe those who want to see FPI dismissed are those who love immorality. It’s not a problem,” Sobri told reporters as quoted by CNN Indonesia yesterday, adding that the general public actually wants to see FPI gain in strength to protect the people.

Were FPI to ultimately be disbanded by the government, it wouldn’t be the first time a hardline Islamist organization was dissolved under President Joko Widodo’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.

Do you think the government should not renew FPI’s permit, or would doing so be denying the group their democratic rights?

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CITY: JAKARTACATEGORY: NEWSSUB-CATEGORIES: POLITICS, RELIGION

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