Islamic Defenders Front / Hardline Islamic group calls for jihad against Indonesia’s founding president’s daughter

Posted on: April 6, 2018 | Current Affairs

The group reported the youngest daughter of Indonesia’s first president for blasphemy and called for a jihad after she recited a poem they claim insulted the teachings of Islam

Indonesian Muslim members of the hardline group Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) in a protest last year in Sawangan, Depok, West Java Photo: Bagus Indahono / EPA

The Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) has issued a call for jihad against Sukmawati Sukarnoputri, who is the daughter of Indonesia’s first president, Sukarno, and sister to Megawati Sukarnoputri, former president and leader of ruling president Joko Widodo’s Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle.

The group has also reported Sukarnoputri to the police, accusing her of blasphemy for reciting one of her poems at a recent fashion event. The poem, written in 2006 and titled ‘Ibu Indonesia’ (‘Mother Indonesia’), extols Indonesian culture, at times at the expense of Islamic practices.

“I don’t know Islamic sharia / But I know Mother Indonesia’s ballad, it’s so very elegant / More soothing than your azan [Islamic call to prayer],” reads the English translation.

If found guilty, Sukarnoputri faces up to five years in prison. Last year, the FPI successfully campaigned for the sentencing of the former governor of Jakarta, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, on the same blasphemy charge. The Christian politician, also known as Ahok, was handed down a two-year prison sentence for insulting Islam in a speech.

Sukarnoputri, herself a politician, has since publicly apologised to all Muslims for causing offense in a tearful speech at a press conference.

“The poem is a reflection of my concern about the sense of nationalism… and to honor our motherland’s rich cultural traditions and diversity,” she said.

This is not the first time Sukarnoputri and the FPI have had a run-in. Last year during the movement to charge Ahok, Sukarnoputri reported FPI leader Rizieq Shihab to police for insulting her father and Pancasila, Indonesia’s foundational philosophy, the Australian reported.

The outspoken cleric, who could be jailed for several years if he were convicted, fled to Saudi Arabia, where he still resides.

Despite vocal outcry from religious conservatives in the country, others have jumped to the support of Sukarnoputri. Ma’ruf Amin, the head of the Indonesian Ulema Council, has asked people not to get carried away or allow the issue to escalate, ABC reported.

“We need to solve our differences through dialogue, to find solution and agreement… we don’t want conflict like in other countries,” said Amin at the press conference.

The FPI, however, has refused to accept Sukarnoputri’s apology and plans to hold protests against her this Friday.

“There will be no mercy for those who blaspheme,” FPI member Novel Bamukmin told Reuters.

Indonesia is a multi-faith, secular country, but has the world’s largest population of Muslims. Human rights groups have been concerned by a rise in conservative Islamic views in the world’s third largest democracy in recent years.

“It’s creating an atmosphere of fear,” Andreas Harsono of Human Rights Watch told Reuters. “People never know when someone could report them to the police for blasphemy against Islam.”

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