Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Notorious FPI

On 21 May 1998, President Soeharto stepped down after 32 year of authoritarian rule, since then Indonesia experienced a liberal democratic system.

One of the by product of such system is the creation of an organization called Front Pembela Islam (FPI) or Islamic Defender Front in 1998.

In spite of its name, FPI's actions did not reflect that of a religious organization, its members often carried out brutal violence such as raiding entertainment places and making threats. The worst thing is that most of such actions were untouchable by the law. For  that reason, many people alleged that  FPI has been maintained by the Police and/or the military for certain purpose.

The latest act act of violence was on 24 June when a group of people who claimed to be members of FPI ransacked a seminar organized by some members of the House of Representatives in Banyuwangi, East Java, which FPI accused has been organized illegally by former members of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) which was disbanded in 1965.

The above acts of violence have been strongly protested by the public, many of them demanded that FPI should be disbanded.

However, in several TV interviews FPI's spokesman denied that they took part in the said violence in Banyuwangi, saying that FPI has changed its paradigm from violence to non violence, and will dismiss members who do not obey this rule.

Further, FPI accused that its name has been used by certain people to divert public's attention from far more important things that is happening in Indonesia today.

Considering the fact that FPI's frequent violent actions were almost untouchable by the laws, I felt that FPI has been intentionally maintained by the security agencies to do things which would divert public's attention from far more important things in life like the (10% to 20%) electricity hike starting 1 July. And such action seems to be quite successful.

I hope that the law enforcement agencies would investigate all allegations against FPI and punish them if proven guilty.

Related articles in the media :
Islamic Defenders Front (Wikipedia)
Daftar Aksi Front Pembela Islam (Wikipedia)
Front Pembela Islam (FPI) in Indonesia (Indonesia Matters)
Kronologis Peristiwa Banyuwangi (FPI site)
Ulil: FPI Harus Dibubarkan (Tempo)
Rieke Punya Bukti Keterlibatan FPI (Kompas)
Tuntutan Pembubaran FPI Tidak Mengada-Ada (Legalitas)
Menko Polkam: Percuma Kita Bubarkan (Rakyat Merdeka)


colson said...

Great entry. I second your opinion. Though with a few marginal remarks..

FPI by its name and statements made by it's leaders pretends to act on behalf of the religion. In that way the violent acts committed by their members harm that religion.

So I wonder why MUI doesn't ban FPI from their organization and the authorities don't take action to strike the official recognition of FPI.

(Ex President Suharto used extensively organized vigilantes to crush opposition in '65 and later - I don't think these organized thugs are a by-product of democracy. Rather they thrive because democracy is still incomplete since the state of law is lagging behind)

H. Nizam said...

Hi Colson,
I agree with your opinion that FPI is giving Islam a very bad name.
The government, the Police, MUI, should take a firm stance on them.
Investigation should be conduct properly on every violence they conducted. So the key here is law enforcement.

Kiwi Riverman's Blogesphere said...

I have always been intrigued by the use of capitals by special police and security forces.KGB, FBI, CIA, our SIS, and mny others around the world, including your FPI.


umihoney said...

The creation of supposedly a religious/vigilant group is just a smoke screen.I agree its terribly harmful to Islam's image.This is to promote some hidden agenda else why is the group given so much leeways.Its a total farce.

H. Nizam said...

I never thought about that, organizations with capitals like you mentioned are not popular.

Many people are accusing the police and military of supporting this organization.

Rob Baiton said...

It would seem that the need not to be seen as being anti-Islam or un-Islamic far outweighs the need to do what is right.

The FPI needs to be dealt with like any other organisation that consistently flaunts the prevailing laws and regulations of the land. The individuals who violate those same laws and regulations must also be dealt with to the full extent possible under the law.

It is no longer an issue of the defense of Islam. Islam is bigger than the FPI and there are plenty of much better qualified and equipped people in the world to make Islam's case and to defend it from those who argue against it.

However, what has not been talked about is the manner in which the FPI has successfully assumed the position of "moral police force" and the fundamental arbiters of what is morally right in Indonesian Islam.

There are those, such as yourself, who question this supposed 'legitimacy' of the FPI. Yet, the reality is that Indonesians opposed to the FPI and its brand of Islam have not been able to marshal the forces in a way to successfully disband it or at least make it a very marginal after-thought in the spectrum of religious thought.

H. Nizam said...

Hi Rob,
Politicians now based their thinking and actions on the 2014 election, therefore they want to win the heart of majority Moslem so as to get their votes.
For that reason the govt, police and military are reluctant to enforce the law on FPI although they broke the law.
You are right FPI only represent few Muslems. I don't know anyone who support them. It nothing compared to other Muslem organizations like NU (50 mio ppl) and Muhamadiyah (30 mio ppl).
Only that FPI is easier to control perhaps.

Simon Pitchforth said...

Excellent post. At last, some much needed class consciousness! Someone with a bit of vision who can see how religious extremism is being used to divide and conquer the public and distract them from the real enemies. The Indonesian left and even centre were completely destroyed by Suharto, one of the 20th Century's most notorious despots. The founders of this country were socialists...fact.

H. Nizam said...

Although only few of the founding fathers expressly claimed that they are socialists, however most of them have socialist political lining.
Thank you for your kind comment.