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Jakarta Post

FPI to crowdfund to cover Rizieq's Saudi visa fine

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, July 12, 2019   /   06:53 pm
FPI to crowdfund to cover Rizieq's Saudi visa fine Claiming innocence -- Islam Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab (center) speaks to journalists after being interrogated by the Jakarta Police on Jan. 23, 2017. (Antara/Reno Esnir)

The Islam Defenders Front (FPI) plans to raise money through crowdfunding to help its leader, Rizieq Shihab, pay a fine for overstaying his visa in Saudi Arabia, according to Sugito Atmo Prawiro, head of FPI legal aid.

Sugito said the FPI has asked the Indonesian government to pay the fine, since the FPI claims Jakarta was behind Rizieq overstaying his visa, and the organization would resort to crowdfunding if the government refuses.

“If the Indonesian government does not pay, the Muslim people will consolidate to help each other to pay the fine,” Sugito said on Friday as quoted by tempo.co.

FPI leader Rizieq Shihab has stayed in Saudi Arabia longer than legally allowed. He left for Saudi Arabia in 2017 to go on umrah (minor haj) and has remained there ever since. Prior to his leaving Indonesia, the firebrand cleric was charged in connection with a pornography case and for insulting Pancasila. The police dropped both charges last year but he remained in Mecca in self-exile despite his visa having expired in July 2018.

According to the Indonesian Embassy in Saudi Arabia, Rizieq had remained in the country with four other people. Each person is estimated to have incurred Rp 110 million (US$7,099) in fines for overstaying.

Sugito said the money would not be difficult to raise if the people loyal to Rizieq work together.

“Rp 110 million is big, but if the people consolidate, it won’t be expensive or big,” he said.

According to Sugito, Rizieq did not intend to overstay in Saudi Arabia. He said the cleric had tried multiple times to leave Saudi in 2018, on July 9, 12 and 15, but was prevented from doing so by an Indonesian institution. 

Rizieq was reportedly planning to finish his PhD dissertation in Malaysia. 

“Before the visa expired he had been blocked from going outside the country. After his visa expired, he was labeled an overstayer,” Sugito said. (gis)