Members of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) demonstrate in front of the National Police headquarters in Jakarta in January. (Antara Photo/Reno Esnir)

Protest Rallies Must Follow Regulations: Military Chief

BY : YEREMIA SUKOYO & EKO PRASETYO

JANUARY 17, 2017

Jakarta. Indonesian Military Chief Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo said a democratic country like Indonesia will always allow protest rallies as long as they do not break the law.

Gatot's comment came after hardline group Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) took to the streets demanding the National Police chief dismiss two of his high-ranking officers.

"In a democracy, there is always space for freedom of speech. But [everyone] should follow regulations when protesting," Gatot said on Tuesday (17/01).

Gatot said military intelligence officials are trying to work out if some of these mass organizations have acted against the state ideology Pancasila.

"TNI is committed to support the administration of President Joko Widodo and will crack down mass organizations that defy Pancasila," Gatot said.

The recent protest rally from FPI on Monday (16/01) called for the removal of Jakarta Police Chief Insp. Gen. M. Iriawan and West Java Police Chief Insp. Gen. Anton Charliyan for creating friction among Muslims.

The police said they will not be forced to replace, discharge or remove officers from their posts.

Meanwhile, FPI’s firebrand cleric Rizieq Shihab is himself facing a string of police reports, accusing him of blasphemy, hate speech and defamation.

He was recently reported again to the Jakarta Police for a speech that went viral on social media in which he allegedly claimed that the new rupiah banknotes feature the communist hammer-and-sickle symbol.

Several watchdog organizations and experts have called on the National Police to fast-track the investigations against him.

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