Is­lamic De­fend­ers Front chief al­legedly ex­hanged nude pic­tures with woman

New Straits Times - - World -

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.

Rizieq Shi­hab

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