Many migrant workers find solace in extremist groups, as they give them a sense of belonging. (Antara Photo/Irwansyah Putra)

Mounting Calls for Hizbut Tahrir Disbandment


MAY 04, 2017

Jakarta. Calls are mounting for the disbandment of the radical Islamic organization Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia, or HTI, amid renewed concerns that its existence may jeopardize national unity.

Police hinted last week that the government is considering dissolution of the group, which allegedly seeks to establish an Islamic state in Indonesia. National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian said the movement could undermine national unity.

The dissolution is supported by human rights activists. According to Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace, it will be a proper move as long as legal procedures are followed.

"HTI's thoughts can't be suppressed, because the right to freedom of conscience can't be limited. But the government can limit the spread of their ideology," said Setara chairman Hendardi.

"Their mass and systematic movement has been deemed a threat to national unity. Dissolution is a way to suppress the destructive influence of HTI," he added said.

However, according to the chairman of a Muslim youth group that has been opposing HTI, so far the government has not undertaken any concrete steps.

"I'm confused why it takes so long for the government to deal with HTI," said Yaqut Cholil Qoumas, who leads Ansor, the youth wing of Nahdlatul Ulama — Indonesia's largest Muslim organization.

"It's obvious they want to establish a caliphate. They have no merits for this republic," he said in Jakarta on Wednesday (03/05).

Last month, Ansor members blocked a long march by HTI activists in Tulungagung, East Java. The latter dispersed without resistance.

Three weeks later, police cancelled the International Caliphate Forum organized by HTI in Bogor, citing security concerns due to widespread public opposition.

Hizbut Tahrir is an international organization which seeks to remove the existing governments in the Muslim world and unite it under a pan-Islamic theocracy. Its Indonesian chapter was founded in 1980s.

Despite its nonviolent nature, the organization has been banned in several countries.

In Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim-majority country, many are concerned about HTI's advocacy to establish a caliphate.

The organization has been active especially on campuses.