The Jakarta Post
A petition has gone viral on social media demanding the dismissal of Central Jakarta Police chief Sr. Comr. Hendro Pandowo for allowing raids by hard-line Islamic group the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) to disrupt an awards event on Monday.
As of 8 p.m. Wednesday, more than 20,000 netizens had signed the petition, which was initiated by Jakarta resident Damar Juniarto through change.org. The petition is entitled Copot Kapolres Jakarta Pusat yang Telah Dukung Sweeping FPI (Fire Central Jakarta Police Chief for Supporting FPI's Sweeping Raids).
'I was upset to find the FPI once again holding sweeping raids and, once again, being supported by the police,' Damar, a member of the Indonesia Art Coalition, told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday. 'I told my friends that we should urge the police to take the side of the wider public, not just a particular group.'
Damar said that on Monday evening around a hundred FPI members inspected cars passing through the front gate of Taman Ismail Marzuki (TIM) in Central Jakarta where the Indonesia Theater Federation Award was being held. They asked drivers to open their car windows to check on passengers.
According to Damar, the FPI members were trying to stop Purwakarta regent Dedi Mulyadi from attending the event.
The FPI has accused Dedi of debasing Islamic tenets by using the Sundanese greeting Sampurasun, instead of the Muslim-approved Assalamualaikum.
The organization has also called Dedi a musyrik (polytheist) after he put up statues of Sundanese puppet characters in a number of parks throughout Purwakarta, West Java.
Furthermore, the FPI claim that Dedi is married to Nyi Roro Kidul ' a legendary Javanese figure who is known as the Queen of the South Seas ' because he holds an annual parade around Purwakarta using a decorated chariot.
These grievances have driven the FPI to try and stop the regent from entering Jakarta, including for Monday's event, which was guarded by around 200 police officers.
Damar further said that the police did not stop FPI members from inspecting the cars. The police, according to Damar, waited idly by and allowed Indonesians to be harassed by the group.
Damar said the police even took Dedi ' who had made his way into TIM through another gate ' from the event and took him away from the park for security reasons.
This is not the first time the police have bowed down before the FPI. Earlier this month, the group blocked a discussion and a drama script reading about Indonesia's 1965 communist purge. The reading was also to be held at TIM. The organizers eventually cancelled the event at the request of the police.
Responding to the issue, Hendro said that he would accept any reprimand directed against him, including employment termination, if the police found him guilty of having neglected his duties.
He emphasized, however, that no sweeping raids had occurred at the event. He said that he could guarantee this because he had joined with the security team due to a tip off.
He also denied the allegation that the police had dispersed the event at TIM. 'We guarded the event until the end. We did not urge them to cancel it,' Hendro said.
Separately, Jakarta Police Chief Insp. Gen. Tito Karnavian lauded Hendro, saying that no raids had taken place at the event. Tito stated that it was unlikely that the police would dismiss Hendro from his position.
Meanwhile, FPI member Abdul Majid confirmed the sweeping raids. He said that the raids had been set up to prevent Dedi from 'stepping into Jakarta'.
He went on to say that FPI members did not undertake the sweeping raids by themselves alone, but had been aided but other Muslim groups from Cikini, Kwitang and Kalipasir.
He explained that the FPI and Muslims could no longer tolerate Dedi's policies. 'His policies could encourage people to be musyrik. If he wants peace, he must stop musyrik policies in Purwakarta. He must destroy all the statues,' Abdul said as quoted by tribunnews.com on Monday.
Meanwhile, culture expert Radhar Panca Dahana, who acted as one of the judges at the event, said that anyone joining religious groups should not force their own values on others.
'Please, stop harassing other people's values. Civilized countries do not suppress cultures,' Radhar said. (agn)