Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab has come forward to address his recent controversies, during which he apologized for being irresponsible during the pandemic while also calling on the public to be responsible.
In a live event streamed on YouTube today, the firebrand cleric apologized for mass gatherings held in his honor after he returned to Indonesia last month. Rizieq spent more than three years in self-imposed exile in Saudi Arabia escaping charges related to pornography.
“I apologize to the public for the airport, Petamburan, Tebet, and Megamendung for the crowds [that came] beyond our control,” Rizieq said, referring to the locations in which mass gatherings were held within days of his return to Indonesia.
“Let us observe health protocols, wash our hands regularly. And I call on everyone, with our moral revolution, we pray that Allah lift this pandemic from us,” he added unironically.
Rizieq also opened up about his current condition, saying he is following advice from medical professionals to self-isolate due to his exposure to large crowds, but he did not say whether or not he was diagnosed with COVID-19.
There has been a great deal of speculation surrounding Rizieq’s health, after he was last week admitted to hospital for “exhaustion” even though dozens from the mass gatherings, including those who came in close contact with him, tested positive for COVID-19. He later reportedly escaped that hospital (though he claims he was discharged) following a dispute on whether or not his test result should be made public.
Rizieq was summoned for questioning by the Jakarta Metro Police for his role in the mass gatherings, but he failed to show up yesterday. Another session is being scheduled for the coming days.