Rizieq Syihab raises his cuffed hands as he is being escorted to the detention facility as a suspect in health protocol violation case on Dec. 13, 2020. The Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) leader is detained after 11-hour interrogation at the Jakarta Police headquarters. (Beritasatu Photo/Joanito De Saojoao)

Rizieq Handcuffed and Detained after Day-Long Interrogation

BY :THE JAKARTA GLOBE

DECEMBER 13, 2020

Jakarta. Firebrand Muslim cleric Rizieq Syihab wore an orange vest as he walked out of the Jakarta Police’s interrogation room just after midnight on Sunday, a confirmation that he was detained right after the interrogation.

The leader and founder of hardline group Islamic Defenders Front, of FPI, raised both hands to show journalists that he was handcuffed after spending around 14 hours at the metro police headquarters for the questioning.

It’s a heartbreaking sight for tens of thousands of his followers who believe the 55-year-old is a descendant of Prophet Muhammad.

Rizieq was named criminal suspect on Thursday for alleged violation to the Health Protocol related to last month’s wedding party of his daughter.

He initially underestimated police seriousness in handling the case and ignored two earlier summonses until six FPI members were fatally shot by officers in a highway pursuit in the outskirts of Jakarta earlier this week.

He turned himself in to the police at around 10.30 a.m. on Saturday.

Police said they have lawful authority to detain Rizieq because the charge carries a sentence of five years’ imprisonment or longer.

The controversial cleric was detained “to prevent him from fleeing justice, concealing evidence or repeating the crime”, National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Argo Yuwono told reporters.

Rizieq was charged after he held a wedding party for his daughter attended by many guests at the family’s home in Petamburan, Central Jakarta. Five other FPI members were also named suspects in the case for their role in arranging the wedding. 

Police said the wedding violated physical distancing rules imposed during the coronavirus outbreak. Last month, a senior Health Ministry official announced that at least 80 people who attended the wedding party and a religious event led by the FPI leader in Tebet, South Jakarta have tested positive for the virus.

Controversies
Since his Nov. 10 return after living in Saudi Arabia for nearly three years, Rizieq has put police in the defense for failing to disperse huge crowds of his supporters who welcomed his arrival at the airport and attended a number of events in his presence.

Provincial police chiefs in Jakarta and West Java were demoted following public uproar over the blatant disregard for the physical distancing policy demonstrated by thousands of his followers.

Police summoned Rizieq twice to question him about those incidents but the defiant cleric kept a deaf ear. 

The stand-off led to a deadly incident on Monday when police chased a vehicle convoy carrying Rizieq. The Jakarta Police claimed at least two vehicles made deliberate attempts to stop the cashing officers, including by dangerous vehicle maneuver to distract them.

Police eventually killed all six people in one of the two cars, claiming that they opened fire at the officers and threatened with machetes. The slain people, aged between 20 and 33, were members of the FPI Special Guard, police and the FPI have confirmed.

The FPI said police claims were baseless and argued that its members were unarmed and that the chasing officers were in plain clothes and used an unmarked car.

Legal Issues
Rizieq and the FPI have gained notoriety for violent protests and intolerant views towards people of different faiths.

He was sentenced to seven months in prison in 2003 after the group vandalized bars in Jakarta. Five years later, he again was convicted and sentenced to one and a half years for an attack on a religious freedom event at the National Monument Square in Central Jakarta.

Since 2016, he has been facing a number of police complaints over various issues from insulting state symbols and blasphemy to false communism symbol claims and alleged sexual chat with a female supporter.

He left for Saudi Arabia in 2017 amid a wave of legal cases directed against him.

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