The relationship between city authorities and the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) appears friendly despite the hard-line group’s reputation for violence.
Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo and Jakarta Police chief Insp. Gen. Timur Pradopo attended the 12th anniversary celebration of the FPI at the organization’s headquarters in Petamburan, Central Jakarta, on Saturday, leading critics to say they both feared the FPI.
Fauzi and Timur’s attendance comes a day after FPI leader Habib Rizieq visited Jakarta Police headquarters to “offer” the group’s “services” in enforcing a city bylaw banning some entertainment establishments from operating during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
“The FPI is not the enemy of the police or state. Sin is the FPI’s enemy,” Rizieq said in a speech at the event.
He added the presence of Fauzi and Timur was proof of their support.
In his speech, Fauzi said, “The city’s 2004 bylaw regulates the activities of night time entertainment venues in the month of Ramadan.”
He told the public not to worry about the enforcement of the bylaw.
“In some places where people continue to violate the law, we will act according to the rules,” he said.
An observer quickly blasted the amiable relationship between the two sides.
“Both the police and the governor are dumb. They should not pander to the FPI, which has a long history of committing violence in the city,” Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) researcher Syamsuddin Haris told The Jakarta Post on Saturday.
He added that the presence of both city leaders was evidence that they indeed feared the FPI.
“Any reason, including ‘we would do anything as long as the FPI doesn’t do anything violent’ is not acceptable. The two should not have surrendered and allowed themselves to be controlled by an organization that has violated the law many, many times,” Syamsuddin said.
He emphasized that, “the police are the law enforcement body, not the FPI. The police have to enforce the law indiscriminately, including punishing them who violate the law, such as the FPI.”
In April, a deadly riot broke out when thousands of public order officers backed by police clashed with locals reportedly supported by the FPI at a site in Koja, North Jakarta, which many believe to be the resting place of Muslim icon Mbah Priuk.
Legal Aid Foundation director Nurkholis Hidayat said the “joint-forces plan” would only “support violence and strangle the public’s rights” of just law enforcement.
Meanwhile, Jakarta Residents Forum (Fakta) chairman Azas Tigor Nainggolan said that, “Such a coalition would only prove that the city authorities are unable to provide public security.” (ipa)