The Jakarta Post
Imam Shamsi Ali, who chairs the Islamic Cultural Center in New York, the US, has said he is not afraid of a lawsuit that House of Representatives Deputy Speaker Fadli Zon has threatened to file against him, following Facebook comments which criticized the presence of several House members at a press conference held by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
'If you consider my understanding about this issue is just slander and hence, you want to file a lawsuit against me, it is your right as a state official. It means such a reaction also gives me a deeper understanding about who you are and what respectable House of Representatives members look like,' said Shamsi as quoted by tempo.co on Sunday. The Muslim scholar made the comments on his Facebook account on Saturday evening.
Two hours before he posted the comments, Shamsi said he received a long message from Fadli. The Gerindra Party politician, Shamsi said, had rejected criticism regarding a meeting between several House delegation members and Trump, the 2016 Republican presidential candidate. Fadli was among the delegation, which also included House Speaker Setya Novanto and the leader of the House's Ways and Means Committee (BURT) Roem Kono.
Fadli, meanwhile, said the meeting was not a show of support from House leaders for Trump's presidential bid. 'It's not a campaign event but a press conference, which was held in the lobby of Trump Plaza, his own building,' said the politician.
Shamsi said the meeting had humiliated Indonesian state leaders and was full of political interests. He said it was obvious that the press conference was part of a campaign event. He further said the presence of Setya and Fadli, who stood behind Trump as the US business tycoon delivered a speech, was deplorable.
'They might claim that their attendance was not to show their support; however, attending a campaign event, even if it was only a press conference, could be interpreted as a show of support to a certain presidential candidate,' said Shamsi. He said such an action was unethical, particularly for a high ranking official such as a House speaker.
Video footage showing Trump introducing Setya during his speech went viral and sparked a heated debate. The three-minute video showed Setya, Fadli and Roem standing among Trump's supporters. All three lawmakers smiled throughout the speech. The way in which Trump introduced Setya during the press conference was also highly criticized.
Shamsi said he very much regretted the House delegation's visit to the US, which experts have estimated to have cost trillions of rupiah. The visit contradicted the current condition of Indonesia, which was suffering from economic slowdown, he said. (ebf)