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Should Indonesia Ban Hard-Line Islamic Groups?

The Islamic Defenders Front (Front Pembela Islam, FPI), a hard-line Islamic group in Indonesia, was recently in the news after Dayak tribespeople in Central Kalimantan chased away the group's delegates who flew in from Jakarta to inaugurate the establishment of its local chapter.

Shortly thereafter, the Central Kalimantan administration informed the Indonesian president, Parliament's chairman, ministers, and the chief of National Police of its opposition to FPI presence in the province and asserted that FPI's methods aren't aligned with the Dayak's (indigenous Kalimantan ethnic group's) way of life.

The FPI is accused in the past of using intimidation and brutal acts to attack religious minorities as well as raiding bars and pubs operating during the fasting month.

Digital art by blogger Hasyim Soska which reads "I support Without FPI movement. It's time for Indonesia to speak up."

Digital art by blogger Hasyim Soska which reads "I support Without FPI movement. It's time for Indonesia to speak up."

The Dayaks have inspired other Indonesians to speak up their minds about FPI. There are even proposals to disband the FPI and other similar groups. Hashtags such as #IndonesiaTanpaFPI (Indonesia without FPI), #indonesiaamantanpafpi (Indonesia's safe without FPI) and #bubarkanfpi (disband FPI) were flooded by comments from Indonesian netizens.

@goodXgars: Sesungguhnya surga itu diperuntukkan bagi orang baik dan beriman, bukan bagi yg paling lantang meneriakkan nama Tuhan. #bubarkanFPI

@goodXgars: Truly, heaven is reserved for the good and faithful, not those who yell God's name out loud. #bubarkanFPI

@IwanKamah: Ikut #IndonesiaTanpaFPI, pasti org itu tak suka kekerasan krn track record FPI buruk. #IndonesiaTanpa JIL pasti org kolot tak suka debat..

@IwanKamah: Joining #IndonesiaTanpaFPI means that the person hates violence because FPI has bad track record. (Those who join) #IndonesiaTanpa JIL must be an old fashioned person who dislike being argued..

@absolutia: semoga kampanya hari ini tdk ada aksi2 “dadakan” rampas poster, gebuk protester, seperti yg dilakukan antek FPI2 saat #IndonesiaTanpaFPI :)

@absolutia: Hopefully there won't be any surprise incidents such as poster grabbing or protestor being hit like what the FPI sympathizers did during the IndonesiaTanpaFPI (protest).

@rarawilis: Liat demonya FPI, gak mutu, blgnya demo damai, tp kok nolak demokrasi?#IndonesiatanpaFPI

@rarawilis: Observing FPI's protest, lame, claiming it's a peaceful protest against democracy.

Radio personality and blogger Panji Pragiwaksono wrote about the demand for FPI to be disbanded. Panji lists some arguments against the disbandment of the FPI:

1) Karena pembubaran FPI hanya akan membuat mereka muncul kembali dgn nama yg baru
2) Karena negara membebaskan siapapun untuk berkumpul dan berserikat. Menghalangi itu, hanya akan berdampak buruk kpd diri kita sendiri
3) Kalau FPI melakukan kegiatan2 yg melanggar hukum, ya pelakunya yg ditindak. Sama aja seperti misalnya POLRI ada yg melanggar hukum, ya pelakunya yg ditindak. Bukan POLRInya yg dibubarkan

1. By disbanding them, FPI will only resurface under a new name.
2. The state allows gatherings and form a union. Disallowing them to do that will only bring bad impact among ourselves.
3. If FPI did things that violate the laws, then punish the culprit. Just like when a police officer violates a law, then we will have take action against the person, not disband the national police.

On his talk show, Panji invited FPI official Habib Selon who claimed that FPI acts as a shield for the people, and only “attack” immoral places when the police refuse to do anything to improve those places. Responding to Panji's question on why FPI was founded by army generals (one of them is General Wiranto who will run for the 2014 presidency) Selon said:

“Jendral jendral itu adalah pendukung Islam. Boleh boleh saja mereka mendukung Islam. Semua orang Islam pasti mendukung FPI”

Saya memotong dan berkata “Tidak semua lho Bib. Saya aja tidak mendukung FPI..”
Dia menyahut “Mereka yang ga stuju FPI, bukan org Islam!”
I got that on air. On tape.

“Those generals are supporters of Islam. It's okay that they support Islam. All Muslims surely support FPI.”

I interrupted and said “Well, not all. I don't support FPI.” He responded, “Those who disagree with FPI, are not Muslims!”

I got that on air. On tape.

Meanwhile, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) told the Jakarta Post that Indonesians should ask how organizations like FPI got the permit to speak in behalf of Islam.

An anonymous blogger known as Jakarta Commuter said that Indonesia still needs FPI. He elaborates:

Jujur, saya lebih memilih FPI untuk tetap ada. Mereka yang berani kontrol bung.. Tapi anarkis harus dibuang jauh-jauh. Tindak pelaku, bukan organisasinya.

FPI juga jangan membela anggota-nya yang memang salah dan memanfaatkan atribut organisasi untuk melakukan tindakan anarki maupun premanisme.

Gerakan anti FPI hanya merupakan tunggakan liberalis yang pro terhadap kebobrokan moral. Mengatakan kebebasan sebagai hak asasi, tapi menjatuhkan martabat budaya timur. Sok kebarat-baratan, tapi tidak mengetahui apa yang harus dibela.

To be honest, I prefer FPI to stay. They're brave enough to control (situations). But anarchy needs to be put away. Punish the culprit, not the organization. FPI should not defend its gulity members who are guilty (of violating the laws) and use the organization's symbols to condone anarchism or thuggery. The anti FPI movement is no more than steed for the liberals who are pro with moral dilapidation. Claiming freedom is human rights but indignify the Eastern values. Pretending to be westernized, but having no idea of what (or who) to fend.

On his blog post, Panji points out the poor confide in groups like FPI which provide what they need like health assistance, micro lendings, education — assistance that the government has failed to deliver.

Pemerintah lalai dalam membantu mereka, masyarakat kelas menengah dgn starbucks di tangan kanan dan iphone di tangan kiri tidak peduli kepada masyarakat sekitar.

The government fails to help them (the poor), while the middle upper class with Starbucks on their right hands and iPhone on their left ones don't care about the people around them.

He added:

[...] Di satu sisi apa yang mereka lakukan adalah baik.

Di sisi lain, mereka memanfaatkan rakyat yg mereka beli untuk jadi basis massa yang kelak mereka manfaatkan untuk kepentingan kepentingan pribadi

Ketidak pedulian kelas menengah kepada sekitarnya, telah berbalik dalam wujud yang lebih membuat resah.

[...] On one side, what they did was good.

On the other side, they use the people's trust that they bought and turn it into their mass support which one day they could use for their personal interest.

The upper middle class’ ignorance has turned into anxiety.

In conclusion, Panji said that disbanding FPI is not a solution:

Solusi yang benar, adalah dengan mulai peduli kepada sesama rakyat Indonesia yg membutuhkan

The right solution is to start caring our fellow Indonesians who are in need.
Digital art by blogger Hasyim Soska.

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