Setara institute says Rizieq Shihab using flag incident to bolster prestige at home

CNN Indonesia – November 9, 2018
SETARA Institute director Hendardi speaks to reporters (CNN)
SETARA Institute director Hendardi speaks to reporters (CNN)

Jakarta – The director of the Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace, Hendardi, believes that there is no basis for the claim by Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) “Great Leader” Rizieq Shihab that there was manipulation by Indonesia in the installation of an ISIS flag on his house.

Hendardi believes that Shihab is attempting to maintain his prestige in the eyes of his followers at home.

“Rizieq Shihab’s accusations of manipulation by the Indonesian government in the case of the installation of flag [on his house] in Saudi Arabia has no basis and is just shows that he is trying to maintain himself as a figure who can be counted as part of the Indonesian political constellation”, said Hendardi in a press release on Friday November 9.

Hendardi said Shihab is doing this so that his followers stay in line and that he is currently attempting to maintain his prestige as a leader. “In the end it is for practical political interests in the 2019 Pilpres [presidential elections]”, said Hendardi

Hendardi also highlighted various challenges facing Shihab’s followers saying that allegations by the followers of the FPI’s “Great Leader” that Indonesian intelligence officials were behind the installation of the flag doesn’t make any sense.

He assumes this because Saudi Arabia is a sovereign county and it is impossible there would be interference by another country. Because of this therefore, the accusation that intelligence operatives from Indonesia manipulated the incident is not rational.

According to Hendardi the allegation is nothing more than a fantasy. “And there is a strong suspicion that that it is being politicised as if he is a victim”, said Hendardi.

Hendardi went on to suggest that the Indonesian government, particularly the National Intelligence Agency (BIN), not take the accusations too seriously.

Hendardi agreed that the Indonesian government is obliged to protect all Indonesian nationals overseas, including Shihab. But, he warned that Shihab is a fugitive on the run from various legal cases in Indonesia.

“Rizieq Shihab chose to avoid facing the law in his homeland, but is still trying to play politics in Indonesia, he is a person who as a consequence [of their actions] has often had to face the law in this country”, said Hendardi.

Shihab was detained and questioned by local Saudi intelligence because of the black flag with the tauhid [the Islamic creed] on the wall of his house. He was released a short time later and has since asked local officials to search for the person who installed the flag.

FPI Leadership Board General Secretary Munarman has said that the installation of the flag was an Indonesian intelligence operation.

According to Munarman it was premeditated, namely the flag was put up, photographed and then the pictures disseminated in Indonesia. He also doubts the authenticity of photos depicting Shihab being question by local security personnel.

BIN, through its spokesperson Wawan Purwanto has stated that the agency does not consider Shihab an enemy of the state and because of this BIN insists that it has no link with the flag incident. (ugo)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was SETARA Nilai Rizieq Ingin Diperhitungkan di Kancah Politik.]