In­done­sian Is­lamists protest at­tempts to curb rad­i­cals

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Conservative Is­lamic groups protested yes­ter­day in the cap­i­tal of In­done­sia, the world’s most pop­u­lous Mus­lim na­tion, de­nounc­ing Pres­i­dent Joko “Jokowi” Wi­dodo’s at­tempt to ban rad­i­cal or­ga­ni­za­tions. De­mon­stra­tors from an al­liance of Is­lamic groups waved flags and held up ban­ners call­ing the gov­ern­ment tyran­ni­cal and re­pres­sive. The crowd, which swelled to an es­ti­mated 2,000 peo­ple, was di­vided into sep­a­rate rows for men and women and was mostly peace­ful, said Jakarta po­lice spokesman Argo Yu­wono.

A de­cree signed by Jokowi last week that amends a law reg­u­lat­ing mass or­ga­ni­za­tions will give the gov­ern­ment al­most un­fet­tered power to ban groups it deems con­trary to the coun­try’s con­sti­tu­tion. Par­lia­ment has one year to re­ject or ap­prove it. It is likely that Hizbut Tahrir, a group that cam­paigns for In­done­sia to adopt Shariah law, is among the tar­gets of the de­cree, with the gov­ern­ment announcing in May that it planned to ban the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

“Jokowi’s anti-Is­lam de­cree is proof this is a dic­ta­to­rial regime,” a rally co­or­di­na­tor, Kho­lilul­loh Al-Hab­syi, told the crowd from a truck. Rights groups have crit­i­cized the de­cree as a dra­co­nian and anti-demo­cratic mea­sure and say govern­ments could eas­ily abuse its power. Jokowi’s mea­sure fol­lowed months of sec­tar­ian ten­sions in Jakarta that shook the gov­ern­ment and un­der­mined the coun­try’s rep­u­ta­tion for prac­tic­ing a mod­er­ate form of Is­lam.

Hizbut Tahrir, along with groups such as the vi­o­lent Is­lamic De­fend­ers Front, was be­hind a se­ries of mas­sive protests in Jakarta, the cap­i­tal, against the city’s mi­nor­ity Chris­tian gover­nor, an ally of Jokowi who was ac­cused of blas­phem­ing Is­lam. He sub­se­quently lost a bid for re­elec­tion to a Mus­lim can­di­date and was im­pris­oned for two years for blas­phemy de­spite pros­e­cu­tors down­grad­ing the charge to a lesser of­fense. Hizbut, a global or­ga­ni­za­tion that is al­ready banned or cir- cum­scribed in some coun­tries, is es­ti­mated to have tens of thou­sands of mem­bers in In­done­sia.

Ma­jor graft case

Mean­while, In­done­sia’s anti-cor­rup­tion agency has named the coun­try’s speaker of par­lia­ment as a sus­pect in a ma­jor graft scan­dal which is es­ti­mated to have si­phoned around $170 mil­lion out of gov­ern­ment cof­fers. The Cor­rup­tion Erad­i­ca­tion Com­mis­sion named house speaker Setya No­vanto as a sus­pect late Mon­day in the gi­ant graft case that has also im­pli­cated other se­nior politi­cians, in­clud­ing the jus­tice min­is­ter, ex-in­te­rior min­is­ter and sev­eral gov­er­nors.

The head of the com­mis­sion, Agus Ra­hardjo, said No­vanto “al­legedly abused his author­ity and po­si­tion for per­sonal gain or for the in­ter­est of a cor­po­ra­tion”. In­ves­ti­ga­tors al­lege that No­vanto was among many politi­cians who re­ceived kick­backs from funds ear­marked for a gov­ern­ment project to is­sue new ID cards to the coun­try’s 255 mil­lion in­hab­i­tants. “The ac­cu­sa­tions are all un­true,” No­vanto told a press con­fer­ence yes­ter­day.

In­done­sia’s spe­cial anti-cor­rup­tion court has said that more than one-third of the 5.9 tril­lion ru­piah ($443 mil­lion) fund was em­bez­zled by a net­work of politi­cians and busi­ness­men in a scheme that al­legedly ran from 2009 to 2015. No­vanto, who is also the chair­man of the rul­ing coali­tion party Golkar, is the fourth sus­pect an­nounced in the case, which could turn into a test of Pres­i­dent Joko Wi­dodo’s will­ing­ness to take a tough stance against cor­rup­tion since many of those im­pli­cated are gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials. No­vanto was pre­vi­ously named a sus­pect in an­other cor­rup­tion case which forced him to quit as speaker in 2015 when he was ac­cused of extorting a stake from US min­ing gi­ant Freeport-McMoRan in ex­change for ex­tend­ing the com­pany’s right to op­er­ate in the archipelago. —Agen­cies

JAKARTA: In­done­sian Mus­lims gather dur­ing a rally. —AFP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.