The Indonesian government has outlawed the hardline Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) group notorious for its raids on bars and hotels during the Ramadan fasting month and attacks on entertainment venues. Indonesia’s chief security minister Mahfud MD said on Wednesday (Dec 30) that the controversial group has been officially outlawed with immediate effect. The Coordinating Political, Legal, and Security Minister said in a live streamed news conference: “The government has banned FPI activities and will halt any activities held by FPI because it no longer has legal standing both as a mass organization and a regular organization. “If an organization acts on behalf of FPI, it must be considered as non-existent and rejected due to the absence of the legal standing starting from today.” The FPI has been automatically disbanded after its permit expired on June 20, 2019, but it has continued to carry out violent acts and other controversial activities. Apart from its so-called “sweeping operations” against bars, brothels and entertainment venues, FPI members has also carried out violent assaults against minorities, such as Ahmadiyahs and Christians. (Jakarta Post)
Editor’s Note: FPI was founded in 1998 at the end of the New Order (35 year Presidency of Soeharto) with support from the Indonesian military.
New Minister of Religion Vows Protection for Minorities
Yaqut Cholil Qoumas, the newly appointed religious affairs minister, has promised to uphold the rights of the Shia and Ahmadiyah minority religious groups and to work to prevent their persecution. “I don’t want members of Shia and Ahmadiyah displaced from their homes because of their beliefs. They are citizens [whose rights] must be protected. “This is the President’s answer to the rising radical [sentiment] of late,” Adi told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday. “Yaqut is not only [someone who is] prepared to compete at the discourse level; he is prepared to put his life on the line.” As the leader of GP Ansor )Ansor is the youth wing of Nahdlatul Ulama, the country’s largest Islamic mass organization.) Yaqut wields considerable influence over a group that is used to playing the role of gatekeeper to the state ideology Pancasila, national motto Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity) and Islam Nusantara, the prevailing strand of Islam that shows syncretism and reflects the nation’s multicultural realities. The unit has the fearsome reputation for deploying youths to protect churches against attacks, including from the likes of the FPI. (Editor’s Note: The new minister will have to overcome a discriminatory 2008 Ministerial Decree and the views of influential clerics that considers groups such as Ahmadiyah as “deviant” and deliver where his predecessors haven’t.