Thursday, June 05, 2008
  The FPI and Me

The unprovoked and vicious assault by the self-styled Islam Defenders Front (Front Pembela Islam - FPI) on the National Alliance for the Freedom of Faith and Religion (Aliansi Kebangsaan untuk Kebebasan Berkeyakinan dan Beragama - AKKBB) on Sunday afternoon has rightly been condemned.

Rightly too, in my opinion, there are calls for the disbanding of FPI - which the government argues is difficult.

FPI has a history of thuggery, much of which I have commented on since I launched Jakartass in 2004. I've selected excerpts from these posts and put them in chronological order. Most of the links I had then are now inaccessible or offline; however much background information is readily available.

26th October 2004
Following the trashing of bars by the self-styled Islam Defenders Front (FPI), it was reported that the National Police had yet to ‘interrogate’ any of the thugs. A full eye-witness account of the intimidation and extortion that occurred on Friday night was posted by the Reveller on Jakarta BlokM.

21st January 2005
To be fair, the group that targeted drinking haunts in Jakarta during Ramadan, FPI, are currently searching for bodies in Aceh (post-Tsunami).

27th January 2005
According to reports, the leader of an anti-corruption watchdog devoted to exposing crimes by state officials has been arrested in Aceh province for improper handling of aid intended for tsunami victims.

Farid Faqih, chairman of Government Watch (GOWA), and three members of the radical Islamic Defenders’ Front (FPI) were arrested on yesterday evening on suspicion of violating procedures in the storage and use of aid. The four were reportedly arrested by Air Force officers at the Sultan Iskandar Muda Airbase and handed over to police for further investigation.

(NB. Something I didn't comment on at the time were the FPI attacks on Christian aid organisations active in Aceh following the Tsunami. But if I had, I would also have severely criticised those organisations proselytising through their overt altruism.)

21st February 2005
The Indonesian government has rejected warnings in travel advisories issued over the weekend, (by the Australian and New Zealand governments) which said terrorists were planning attacks against foreign aid workers involved on relief efforts in areas stricken by the Dec. 26 earthquake and tsunami.

Any attacks would be provoked by Indonesia’s own Islamic loonies, the FPI and the MMI. These thugs are the vigilante groups which have stirred up inter-communal strife in Maluku, Sulawesi and the bars of BlokM and elsewhere in Jakarta.

3rd August 2005
Indonesia's reputation as a bastion of moderate, tolerant Islam has been cast in doubt after the nation's ulemas council (MUI) issued 11 fatwas banning liberal Islamic thought, religious pluralism, inter-faith marriage, inter-faith prayers led by non-Muslims and women leading prayers attended by men.

This, in itself, doesn't bother me. Being in favour of a woman's right to choose and the use of contraception I also ignore Catholic dogmatic claptrap.

What both religions have in common though is an assertion of their right to interfere in civil society by determining secular laws and here in Indonesia this is seemingly welcomed. There is a Ministry of Religious Affairs, currently under investigation for massive embezzlement of haj funds.

Yet the MUI is not a state institution. It can issue fatwa and orders to Muslims, but they are not binding and it does not have the authority to enforce them. Legal authorities in the government have no obligation to enforce the edicts while Muslims are not obliged to comply with them.

Because the MUI has no authority to enforce the controversial fatwa, it is the hard-line groups, like the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) who appear at the frontline to pressure the authorities to enforce them. If they believe the authorities have failed, they (the hard-line groups) could directly come to the field to enforce them.

The MUI , whose influence is strongest in poorly educated rural communities, believes liberal teachings - defined as those promoting rational rather than literal interpretations of religious texts - are "dangerous and misleading".

In other words, we have a major Islamic organisation here in Indonesia whose teachings directly accord with the leanings of potential al-Qaeda recruits.

30th August 2005
This past month, Muslim fundamentalists, the Islamic Defenders’ Front (FPI), have been attacking Christian 'house churches' in Bandung and forcing their closure. Before that, they attacked and forced the closure of a complex of a minor Islamic sect, Ahmadiyah, accusing it of heresy.
The now defunct Laksamana.net aka Paras Indonesia focused on the news that Gus Dur, the president before last, has warned that Banser, the security task force of the nation’s largest Muslim group Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), would be mobilized against FPI if the government fails to stop the radical group from attacking churches.

We're still waiting, Gus.

That Xmas, and probably as a PR exercise, the FPI offered to guard churches.

7th February 2006
Following the Danish cartoons controversy, (which this week has seen a suicide bomber attack the Danish embassy in Pakistan), in Bandung, protest coordinator Asep Syarifuddin from the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) warned that the group would transport Danes to the airport to be repatriated.

So once again a few righteous thugs dictate to others.

SBY has declared that the government was constitutionally bound to protect freedom of religion and the right of all people to practice their faith.

"In this country, there is no such thing as religions that are recognized or not recognized by the state. The Constitution guarantees the freedom of every citizen to have a religion and to practice their faith. The state shall never interfere in any religious teachings. The duty of the state is to protect, serve and facilitate the building and maintenance of places of worship and to encourage citizens to become good followers of their religions."

".... to encourage citizens to become good followers of their religions." ??

Surely it's time for the government to clamp down on the FPI. Their actions would appear to be treasonable, yet if they can be encouraged to become good citizens, then they could yet become good followers of their faith, Islam.

16th March 2007

Playboy Editor in Indonesia Found Guilty
.... Protesters Call for Death Sentence.

Eh? The Indonesian edition of the magazine .... did not feature nudity and was not as risqué as other magazines on sale in Indonesia.

More than 150 members of the Indonesian People Forum (aka Islamic Defenders Front - FPI) said Erwin Arnada, the editor of Playboy Indonesia, should die for his crimes, chanting "hang him, hang him."

So what would they shout if Playboy did have tit pictures?
"Hang, draw and quarter him"?
"Boil him in oil."?

It's surely time these FPI lot grew up and, at the very least, learnt how to masturbate preferably in private. They are just a bunch of wankers after all.

Aren't there more important things to focus their energies on? Such as ....

3rd April 2007
Oigal set himself a task: to find Indonesia's most liveable province/city/town/village. He set various "subjective" criteria, which are roughly what I would have chosen for myself.

I suggested Lubuk Sikaping in West Sumatra because, although a solid Muslim area, it is tolerant and FPI (and assorted other nutters) free. Probably.

Shortly after the Bali bombs went off, I was up there and the provincial chief of police told the town's chief of police to look after Paul, the proprietor of Hotel Rimbo, and me ~ the only two westerners in town. He said, "There are no terrorists in my area."

In an interview for the Australian TV channel, ABCTV, Habib Rizieq, founder of FPI had this to say (translated from Indonesian): I felt called to work in the community because I saw all sorts of immorality there, such as ecstasy use, prostitution, gambling, not to mention thuggery, the way thugs in the street are standing over people, using force, intimidating people. They don't hesitate to kidnap people, assault people. So I felt called to oppose all that.

A thug and a hypocrite?


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