Whether or not the infamous hardline group Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) will continue to exist after their permit as a civil society organization (referred to in Indonesia as “mass organizations” or ormas for short) expires on June 20 remains to be seen, but two petitions on the matter show that there is plenty of passionate opinions on both sides of the debate.
As of yesterday morning, a petition demanding that the Home Affairs Ministry, which issues ormas permits, not extend FPI’s permit had gained over 110,000 signatures on change.org. As of this morning, that number has passed the 250,000 mark with seemingly no signs of slowing down as signatures continue to pour in.
Yesterday, a counter petition was launched by a user named Imam Kamaludin that calls on the Home Affairs Ministry to extend FPI’s permit. On the petition’s page, Imam argued that the FPI should continue to exist because of their positive contributions to society, specifically their commitment to providing aid for natural disaster victims.
That petition, as of this morning, has received over 60,000 signatures, with that number continuing to rise rapidly.
Supporters of FPI frequently point to the militant group’s propensity for providing humanitarian aid to natural disaster victims and argue they were among the first to aid in relief efforts after the 2004 Aceh tsunami (we’d note that other organizations with questionable ethics, such as the Japanese Yakuza, also engage in similar disaster relief efforts).
However, critics of the hardline Islamist group maintain that FPI, above all, threatens religious tolerance in Indonesia 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.