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Indonesia: President signs decree to ban “radical” groups

13th Jul 2017
Indonesia: President signs decree to ban “radical” groups

By Ainur Rohmah

 

TUBAN, Indonesia (AA): Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo has signed a decree giving his government powers to dismantle “radical” organizations amid prolonged sectarian conflict in the world’s most populous Muslim country.

Coordinating Minister for Security, Politics and Human Rights, Wiranto, read the announcement in front of reporters on Wednesday.

“President can issue the Regulation because of urgent circumstances that need a quick settlement,” a local news web portal detik.com quoted Wiranto, who use only one name, as saying.

Some organizations held demonstrations, demanding punishment for the Christian Governor of the capital Jakarta on charges of blasphemy.

In May, the court awarded two years imprisonment to the governor.

Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI) was one of several hard-line groups behind the protests that undermined Indonesia’s reputation abroad for practicing a moderate form of Islam. It is active in dozens of countries despite being banned in some of them and began expanding in Asia several years ago.

The government accused the Hizbut, which have tens of thousands of members in the country, of having an ideology against the Pancasila (Indonesia’s pluralistic state ideology) and the constitution, as well as causing conflict in the community.

The decree also provides for life imprisonment for members and administrators of the organization that engage in hostile acts against certain ethnic, religious, and racial groups that exist in the country.

The international rights group voiced concerns over the decree, calling it ‘violation of freedom of association and expression’.

“Dissolving organizations solely for ideological reasons, is a severe act that violates freedom of association and expression that has been fought hard since the era of the Suharto dictatorship,” said Andreas Harsono, a rights activist associated with the Human Rights Watch.

Spokesman for Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI) Ismail Yusanto said it would challenge the move in the Constitutional Court.

“We have predicted the government will issue the regulation, we will fight by filing Judicial Review,” Yusanto said as quoted by kompas.com.

The group does not have any record of violence in Indonesia but the government’s move to ban it was defended by mainstream Muslim organizations.

[Photo: Indonesian President Joko Widodo. Photographer: Binnur Ege Gürün/AA]

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