ISSN 2330-717X

Indonesia: Opposition To Hardliners Grows


By Chelluz Pahunl

Opposition to a hardline Islamic organization known for using violence grew yesterday with a protest in Jakarta calling for a crackdown against the group.

Hundreds of people gathered amid tight security at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle in Jakarta to demand authorities act against the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), whose aim is to see the implementation of sharia law in Indonesia.

The protest in Jakarta by a group calling itself the Movement for an FPI-free Indonesia comes days after a similar demonstration by hundreds of Dayak tribal people in Palangkaraya, the capital of Central Kalimantan province.

“We strongly condemn violent acts committed by the FPI. We demand the government guarantee the safety of all citizens and protect them from anarchic and violent acts carried out by the group,” said Vivi Widyawati, the movement’s coordinator.

“We have seen many FPI attacks on certain groups, which cannot be justified. Thus we call on all people to support this rally,” she continued.

Protesters held up banners calling for action against the hardliners and a large pink pig doll with the words: “Valentine’s Gift for Habib Rizieq,” a reference to the Islamic Defenders Front’s founder, who was educated in Saudi Arabia.

Widyawati said the Jakarta rally was intended to widen opposition to the hardline group following the Dayaks’ protest on February 11 at Palangkaraya airport.

About 700 people had tried to stop several FPI members, including Rizieq, from arriving to attend the opening of a movement branch office in the province. The demonstration halted operations at the airport for nearly three hours.

“If [the Dayaks] in Palangkaraya can do that, why can’t we? People in Jakarta are often the victims of the FPI’s violent acts,” Widyawati said.

Six men were later arrested after a scuffle when an unidentified man tried to rip up a protester’s banner.

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The Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News, UCAN) is the leading independent Catholic news source in Asia. A network of journalists and editors that spans East, South and Southeast Asia, UCA News has for four decades aimed to provide the most accurate and up-to-date news, feature, commentary and analysis, and multimedia content on social, political and religious developments that relate or are of interest to the Catholic Church in Asia.

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