Some naively thought that the persecution of Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama by Islamist hardliners would end after his apparent electoral defeat on April 19, but, despite their political objective being fulfilled, the hardliner groups are planning yet another rally for this Friday to demand that Ahok be given a more severe punishment than the 2 years of probation recommended by the prosecution.
Similarly, some observers suspected that the various police investigation into Rizieq Shihab, leader of the hardline Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), might be forgotten after Ahok’s defeat. But the police appear determined to see the case of his alleged sex scandal all the way through to trial – an outcome which would almost certainly ruin the reputation of the man who stood at the forefront of the anti-Ahok movement.
First, a little background. Earlier this year, a website called “baladacintarizieq” (Rizieq’s tale of love) mysteriously appeared online featuring a collection of supposedly leaked information (including audio recordings, chat logs and photographs) purporting to detail an adulterous affair between Rizieq and a woman named Firza Hussein. The leader of the hardline group dismissed the information as slanderous lies and FPI promised to report whoever was behind it to the police.
An official police investigation into the allegations began after a group called the “Anti-Pornography Student Alliance” (a bit of an oxymoron, we know) filed a criminal report against the people behind the leak for creating and spreading pornography.
Rizieq and Firza were summoned for questioning by the Jakarta Metro Police last Tuesday but both failed to attend, with the former citing he had previous engagements while the latter said she was sick. Police later released a public statement strongly suggesting that the two are indeed implicated in the scandal based on evidence indicating the nude photos of Firza included in the leak are authentic.
Despite strong evidence that the photos were authentic, the public had yet to hear about any evidence strongly tying Rizieq himself to the sex scandal allegations. However, police dropped a bit of a bombshell yesterday when they announced that they had confiscated one of Rizieq’s mobile phones and that it contained evidence of “intense” two-way conversation between the FPI leader and Firza.
“There was communication between one [of Rizieq’s] phone and one [of Firza’s] phones,” said Jakarta Police spokesperson Argo Yuwono as quoted by Tribunnews. He did not offer up any more details as to the content of the conversations.
In another bit of intrigue, Argo said that Rizieq’s phone was acquired not from the firebrand cleric directly but through Muchsin Alatas, a leader of FPI’s Jakarta chapter. Police had previously confiscated Firza’s phone after she was arrested on suspicion of being involved in a treason plot back in December.
Just to be clear, we do not approve of the government criminalizing the private sex lives of consenting adults, using the pornography law as a pretext for what is essentially an act of moral policing. It’s exactly what happened in the case of Nazril “Ariel” Irham’s infamous sex tape scandal in 2010 as well.
But when you’re the head of an organization that has essentially declared themselves to be the country’s moral police (and has advocated for adulterers to be stoned in the past) you can’t expect not to see others delight in your disgusting hypocrisy being revealed to the public in the most embarrassing way possible.