Indonesia outlaws Islamic Defenders Front religious group

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Dec. 30 (UPI) — Indonesia’s government on Wednesday outlawed the hardline Islamic Defenders Front religious group.

A joint ministerial decree signed by top officials and the national police chief said that the Islamic Defenders Front, or FPI, no longer has legal grounds to operate as a civil organization and its activities often violated the law and caused public disorder.

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Coordinating Political, Law and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD said the group failed to meet the June 20, 2019, deadline to extend its organizational registration permit with the Home Ministry but continued to hold activities that “disturbed public order and security and was involved in activities that were in violation of the law such as violence, sweeping, provocation and other things.”

The government added that 29 members of the group had been convicted of committing acts of terror and 100 more had been convicted of other crimes but did not provide further details.

FPI spokesman Novel Bamukmin said members would not be deterred by the government’s decision to dissolve the group.

“They can disband the FPI but they cannot disband our struggle in defending the country and religion,” he said. “If we want to, we can declare a new Islamic mass organization this afternoon. If it’s disbanded, we can make a new one continuously. Registered or not, we continue to exist.”

The decision to outlaw the group comes two months after its leader, Rizieq Chihab, returned from self-imposed exile pledging to lead the group in a “moral revolution.”

Rizieq surrendered to police earlier this month and faces up to six years in prison on charges related to violating the nation’s coronavirus protocol by holding gatherings with thousands of people.