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Jakarta Post

Saudi authorities question Rizieq over 'extremist' flag at his house in Mecca

  • Kharishar Kahfi

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, November 7, 2018   /   02:21 pm
Saudi authorities question Rizieq over 'extremist' flag at his house in Mecca Islam Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab (center) speak to journalists after being questioned by the Jakarta Police. (Antara/Reno Esnir)

Saudi Arabian security authorities have questioned Rizieq Shihab, a firebrand cleric who has been on the run in the country, over reports of the installation of an Islamist flag at his house in Mecca, the Foreign Ministry has said.

Indonesian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Agus Maftuh Abegebriel said he received a report on the detention of the cleric on Monday.

“Our staff eventually informed that Mecca police went to Rizieq’s house on Monday morning to investigate the allegation of the installation of a black flag that resembles the flag of Islamist extremist groups, on the rear side of his house,” Agus said in a statement on Wednesday.

Later that afternoon, Mecca Police and Saudi Arabia’s General Investigation Directorate took Rizieq in for questioning at a nearby police station, where he was eventually detained.

Indonesia’s representative office in Jeddah dispatched staff to provide legal assistance to Rizieq. Saudi authorities released Rizieq on bail at around 8 p.m. local time on Tuesday.

Saudi Arabia has been banning the installation of flags and other materials resembling those used by extremist groups, including the Islamic State group.

The firebrand cleric and leader of the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) has been in Saudi Arabia for more than a year. In September, the Indonesian Embassy in Riyadh said Rizieq had overstayed his visa in the country, according to a statement issued responding to complaints from his supporters who claimed that restrictions had been imposed on the activities of the FPI leader in Mecca.

Rizieq had been charged by Indonesian police for allegedly violating the 2008 Pornography Law in May 2017. By that time, Rizieq had fled to Saudi Arabia and refused to return to Indonesia, despite several police summonses. The police dropped the case in June, citing a lack of evidence.