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Jakarta Post

Rizieq Shihab to return to Indonesia on Nov. 10, denies overstaying in Saudi Arabia

  • Rizki Fachriansyah
    Rizki Fachriansyah

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, November 4, 2020   /   05:59 pm
Rizieq Shihab to return to Indonesia on Nov. 10, denies overstaying in Saudi Arabia Islam Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab. (Republika/POOL/Raisan Al Farisi/ via JP)

Rizieq Shihab, the controversial leader of the Islam Defenders Front (FPI), is due to arrive in Indonesia later this month after having previously announced that he was soon returning to his home country.

Addressing the public in a video uploaded to the FPI’s official YouTube channel on Wednesday, Rizieq revealed that he would depart from Saudi Arabia on Nov. 9 at 7:30 p.m. local time, therefore ending roughly three years of self exile in the Middle Eastern country.

Insya Allah [God willing], I will arrive at Terminal 3 of [Soekarno-Hatta International Airport] in Cengkareng on Tuesday, Nov. 10 at 9 a.m.,” Rizieq said.

The firebrand cleric further denied that he had overstayed in Saudi Arabia, claiming that the Islamic Kingdom had previously rejected his bayan safar, or exit permit, but later extended his stay visa.

He insisted that he would take legal action against any individual who spreads “rumors” of his supposed overstay in Saudi Arabia, saying that they constituted slander.

“Starting today, I will sue anyone – including Indonesian officials, both within and outside the country – who claims that I overstayed,” Rizieq said, “I never overstayed. Anyone who says so accuses me of a crime.”

Rizieq also brushed off claims that the Indonesian government had lobbied Saudi Arabia to get him home, dismissing them as a hoax.

Last year, Indonesian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Agus Maftuh Abegebriel said Rizieq would have to pay a hefty fine for overstaying before he could be allowed to return to his home country.

It was estimated that the cleric would have to pay an overstay fine of Rp 110 million (US$7,498) per person.

Prior to leaving for Mecca in 2017 to go on an umrah (minor haj), the National Police charged Rizieq in connection with a pornography case and for allegedly insulting Pancasila.

The police dropped both charges last year, but the FPI leader remained in Saudi Arabia even though his visa had expired in July 2018.