Members of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) demonstrating in front of the Jakarta Police headquarters on Monday (23/01) while their leader Rizieq Shihab is undergoing questioning in a defamation probe. (Antara Photo/Reno Esnir)

Police Question FPI's Rizieq Shihab in Defamation Probe


JANUARY 23, 2017

Jakarta. Rizieq Shihab, leader of the hardline Islamic Defenders Front, or FPI, was subjected to four hours of questioning in a defamation probe at the Jakarta Police headquarters on Monday (23/01).

Rizieq was grilled over his claim that the new Indonesian banknotes feature a hammer-and-sickle symbol, which resembles the emblem of the long-disbanded and prohibited Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).

He answered at least 23 questions during the session.

"I've told [the investigators] that I didn't defame certain parties. I gave them the new banknotes and proved [that there is a communist symbol on it]," Rizieq told reporters after the questioning session.

Bank Indonesia previously repudiated allegations that the new banknotes feature a communist symbol.

The logo of the central bank appears partially cut on the notes due an improved security feature, known as recto-verso, aimed at preventing counterfeiting.

However, Rizieq refuses to accept the explanation.

"Actually, the recto-verso design has thousands, or even millions of alternatives, but why did Bank Indonesia choose to use this one, which is very similar to the hammer-and-sickle symbol?" he said.

Around 2,000 FPI sympathizers rallied in front of the Jakarta Police headquarters on Jalan Jenderal Sudirman to protest what they claim is the persecution of Rizieq.

Traffic from the Semanggi Interchange heading to the Pemuda Membangun monument in Senayan was partly diverted during the protest action. Connecting roads from the Sudirman Central Business District to Jalan Jenderal Sudirman were closed.

Police have ordered the protesters to disperse by 4 p.m., before the start of rush-hour traffic.