Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab is now a criminal suspect for his role in attracting a mass gathering for his daughter’s wedding in Jakarta last month.
The Jakarta Metro Police today announced that Rizieq and five event organizers were charged with conspiracy to have others break the law, specifically the Health Quarantine Law banning mass gatherings during a pandemic, and refusal to obey authorities’ request that the event be cancelled.
If convicted, each suspect may get sentenced to around six years in prison.
Rizieq left Indonesia in 2017 and went into self-imposed exile in Saudi Arabia escaping charges related to pornography back home. After the case was dropped, the firebrand cleric returned to Indonesia on Nov. 10 and was greeted by thousands of his followers at the Soekarno-Hatta Airport. FPI held several mass gatherings in Rizieq’s honor in the days that followed, including his daughter’s wedding in the group’s stronghold of Petamburan, Central Jakarta.
Rizieq has been wanted for questioning in relation to the mass gatherings, but avoided police summons on Dec. 1 and Dec. 7. The Jakarta Metro Police finally charged him today, exactly a month after his return.
Rizieq is also wanted for questioning by the West Java Police for holding mass gatherings in the province last month.
The police have urged Rizieq to be cooperative, and warned that they may have to take him by force if he doesn’t voluntarily turn himself in.
Amid this saga, a reported violent shootout occurred between police and FPI members this week, during which six from the latter group were killed. The police say that they were attacked first, though FPI is suggesting that extrajudicial killings were carried out in an escalating war between the hardline group and law enforcement.