The Jakarta Post
The Foreign Ministry has sought clarifications regarding the recent purported visit made by a German Embassy staffer to the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) headquarters in Petamburan, Central Jakarta amid concerns over a possible attempt to fraternize politically with the controversial hardline group.
In a written statement issued on Monday, the ministry said the embassy had confirmed that the visit had indeed taken place on Friday, but that it denied the staffer was visiting in their official working capacity.
The embassy had also apologized for the unsanctioned visit and conveyed the German government’s commitment to maintaining its bilateral ties with Indonesia, particularly in the fight against intolerance, radicalism and hate speech, the ministry said.
“The head representative of the German Embassy has ensured that the incident does not reflect the policies of the German government and the embassy, while also rejecting the impression that the embassy staffer’s visit was a form of Germany’s support for the organization,” the statement read.
The ministry went on to say that the embassy staffer had since been ordered to return to Germany to clarify the purpose of their visit.
Responding to rampant speculation regarding the visit, the embassy claimed the staffer had been in Petamburan on Friday to get a picture of the security situation during the so-called 1812 protest initiated by FPI supporters, given that the demonstration should also pass near the embassy.
The person “acted on personal initiative and not in coordination with the embassy”, according to the embassy.
“[The German Embassy] assures that there were no political intentions associated with this visit,” the embassy said, adding that it had been in close contact with Indonesian authorities regarding the incident.
FPI secretary-general Munarman previously claimed that an official representative of the German Embassy had paid a visit to the group’s headquarters, as reported by tribunnews.com.
The government has been at loggerheads with the FPI in recent weeks following a string of public order and security snafus centered around the return of group leader Rizieq Shihab from self-imposed exile in Saudi Arabia.
The apparent animosity appeared to have escalated earlier this month after an alleged clash between members of the Jakarta Police and sympathizers of Rizieq took place on a section of the Jakarta-Cikampek toll road, which resulted in the deaths of six men. Police personnel had reportedly been tailing him and his entourage because of a tip claiming Rizieq and his followers were planning to evade police questioning regarding the alleged public health protocols at his mass gatherings last month.
Both the police and the FPI issued different accounts of the incident, with the police arguing that the officers defended themselves from a life-threatening attack launched by FPI members, while the group claimed that none of its members had been carrying weapons and the shooting had violated police protocols.
Nearly a week after the fatal shooting, Rizieq voluntarily went to the Jakarta Police headquarters on Dec. 12 to fulfill a police summons for questioning in a case in which he has been named a suspect for allegedly violating the existing health protocols.
On Friday, hundreds of protestors from FPI and a group calling themselves the National Anti-Communist Alliance (Anak) staged what they dubbed the "1812 protest" in Central Jakarta demanding a transparent investigation into the death of six FPI members and the release of Rizieq.