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01/04/2021 Indonesia (International Christian Concern) – On December 30, the chief security minister announced Indonesia’s disbandment of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), a hardline group led by firebrand cleric Muhammad Rizieq Shihab, for violating the law and disrupting peace and security.

The controversial yet politically influential group was founded in 1998 as a vigilante group and the “moral guardian.” FPI is known for its attacks on bars and nightclubs, as well as on Indonesia’s religious minorities.

According to Benar News, officials from the central and regional administrations have been ordered not to give permits for any future FPI events and to remove any posters or materials related to it, said Mohammad Mahfud MD, coordinating minister for political, legal, and security affairs.

“The government has banned FPI activities and will stop any activities carried out by FPI,” Mahfud said. “FPI no longer has legal standing.”

The banning of FPI came nearly three weeks after its leader was arrested for breaching coronavirus rules with his appearance at numerous mass rallies. Shihab only returned to Indonesia from a self-imposed exile in Saudi Arabia last November.

According to Aljazeera, deputy justice minister, Edward Omar Sharif Hiariej, told reporters that FPI was outlawed because nearly 30 of its leaders, members and former members had been convicted on terrorism charges and because the group conflicted with the nation’s state ideology, Pancasila, which stresses unity, harmony, and diversity.

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