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12/15/2020 Indonesia (International Christian Concern) – On December 13, a firebrand Islamic cleric was detained by the Indonesian police for allegedly violating COVID-19 health protocols, holding events that drew thousands of followers.

Habib Rizieq Shihab, leader of the radical Muslim group Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), was accused of organizing large gatherings in defiance of warnings by authorities to observe social distancing rules. Dozens of his supporters were tested positive after attending the super spreader events.

His arrest came not long after the death of six of his followers killed on December 7 in an alleged shootout with police near the capital. According to UCA News, the police had called Shihab in twice for questioning but he went into hiding, leading to a manhunt during which six of his supporters were reportedly shot dead by the police.

He surrendered to Jakarta police on Dec. 12 and was detained after being questioned for 12 hours. According to police spokesman Argo Yuwono, “He will be detained in Jakarta police jail for 20 days for further investigation.”

Shihab fled to Saudi Arabia soon after fleeing pornography charges in 2017, and remained in self-imposed exile for three years. Since his return on Nov. 10, he has called for a “moral revolution.”

His group, FPI, is known for violence and persecuting religious minorities. He was behind the radical “war” against the former Christian governor of Jakarta Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, which resulted in Ahok’s two-year imprisonment for allegedly insulting Quran.

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