HARDLINE LEADER NAMED AS SUSPECT IN PORN CASE
Islamic Defenders Front chief allegedly exhanged nude pictures with woman
AN Islamist leader who helped organise mass protests against Jakarta’s Christian governor has been named a suspect in a pornography case, police said yesterday, as authorities seek to rein in hardliners.
Rizieq Shihab, leader of notorious radical group the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), was on Monday named a suspect for allegedly exchanging pornographic messages with a woman.
Rizieq, who is also being investigated by police over a separate defamation case, is currently out of the country after travelling to Saudi Arabia on pilgrimage and has failed to return despite repeated summons from the police for questioning.
Analysts said it was the latest evidence the government of President Joko Widodo was seeking to clamp down on radicals in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country as fears mount they are growing increasingly influential.
Rizieq was a key figure in organising a series of mass rallies last year against Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, an ally of Widodo, over allegations he insulted the Quran, while campaigning for re-election.
The controversy led to Purnama’s downfall — he lost the election and was jailed for blasphemy for two years this month over the claims — and stoked concerns about rising religious intolerance in a country traditionally regarded as a bastion of tolerant Islam.
FPI was l ong viewed as a marginal organisation whose extreme views did not reflect those of most Indonesians, and was known for raiding bars during Ramadan, but gained national prominence due to the protests.
Jakarta police spokesman Argo Yuwono confirmed Rizieq had been named a suspect for allegedly breaking Indonesia’s tough anti-pornography laws by exchanging graphic messages and nude pictures with the woman.