Jakarta. Firebrand cleric Muhammad Rizieq Syihab was named a suspect on Thursday for violation against the health protocols in a continuing saga after police killed his six followers during a highway chase three days earlier.
According to police, the criminal charge against the “supreme leader” of hardline group Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) is related to the wedding party of his daughter in Jakarta.
"Jakarta Police investigators conducted on Tuesday a review into alleged violation against the Law on Health Quarantine and the Criminal Code during the weeding party of M.R.S’ daughter,” Jakarta Police spokesman Chief Comr. Yusri Yunus told a news conference, naming Rizieq by initials.
“The review concluded that there are six suspects in the case, including M.R.S,” he said.
Rizieq is charged under a Criminal Code article that carries a maximum sentence of six years’ imprisonment for inciting others to commit a crime or violent resistance to authorities or disobedience of the existing laws.
Under the Criminal Procedure Code (Kuhap), police have the authority to detain a suspect in a criminal charge punishable by a jail term of five years or more.
Police themselves are currently under public scrutiny for the Monday’s killings of six FPI members when officers were following a vehicle convoy carrying Rizieq in the outskirts of Jakarta.
Police said they were shot by FPI members during the chase and returned fires. The FPI said all the six people were unarmed and “slaughtered” by police in plain clothes in an unmarked car.
The National Commission on Human Rights, or Komnas HAM, has formed an inquiry team into the incident.
Rizieq, 55, made headlines last month when he arrived in the country after a two-year stay in Saudi Arabia. Thousands of supporters welcomed him at the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Banten, causing a massive traffic jam and raising public concerns over a potentially super-spreader event as the country is still battling the coronavirus outbreak.
At least three other events in his presence, including his daughter’s wedding, have attracted a huge crowd with a glaring disregard for physical distancing rule. As a result, police chiefs in Jakarta and West Java have been demoted for failing to enforce the health protocol.
Rizieq has gained notoriety for verbal attacks on people of different faiths and for encouraging followers to wage jihad. His followers believe he is a descendant of Prophet Muhammad.
The FPI, the group that gives him the supreme leader status, has a history of vandalism and other violent acts, primarily before the tenure of President Joko Widodo.
He left for Saudi Arabia in 2018 amid allegations of sexual chats with a female follower.