Muhammad Rizieq Shihab (left), leader of the hard-line Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), speaks at a gathering in this file photo. (Photo by Konradus Epa/ucanews)
More than 85,000 people have signed an online petition calling on the Indonesian government to revoke the citizenship of a notorious hard-line Islamic group’s leader.
The petition, started on the change.org website, by an individual identified as 7inta Putih called Muhammad Rizieq Shihab, leader of the often violent Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) “a very dangerous man.”
Shihab is currently in self-imposed exile in Saudi Arabia after fleeing Indonesia in July 2017 to avoid a pornography case in which he was accused of exchanging lewd texts and pictures with a woman.
Police dropped the pornography charge in June last year, because of a lack of evidence.
His group has become notorious for targeting religious minorities and attacking free thinkers, often violently.
“We all know that Rizieq Shihab is the FPI leader who is very dangerous and is affiliated with the Islamic State (IS) group,” the petition writer said.
“Rizieq Shihab is … the mastermind behind all provocations [since the presidential elections],” Putih wrote.
Political tensions have grown in Indonesia since the presidential elections in April.
Last month, supporters of defeated presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto rioted in the capital after President Widodo was officially declared to have won a second term.
At least eight people were killed and more than 700 injured during the unrest.
“Calling for the shutdown of the FPI is not enough. Rizieq Shihab will surely form another organization with a different name but with similar purpose,” said Putih.
Last month, hundreds of thousands signed another petition demanding the government not extend the FPI’s permit, which was first granted over 20 years ago.
The permit is due to expire on June 20.
“It is also possible for the state to revoke Rizieq Shihab’s citizenship,” the petition writer said.
The FPI responded by calling the petitioner’s comments “lies.”
"This petition is defamatory as it says Rizieq Shihab is affiliated with Islamic State,” FPI spokesman, Novel Chaidir Hasan Bamukmin, told ucanews.com.
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