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Tempo Editorial: Stop Politicizing Rizieq
FPI leader Rizieq Shihab (center).
Friday, 06 July, 2018 | 12:24 WIB
Tempo Editorial: Stop Politicizing Rizieq

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Ending the pornography investigation into Islam Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Syihab was the right move, albeit a late one. The police should never have pursued the investigation in the first place, as it involved a private matter that had nothing to do with public interest.

The pornography law, in principle, is meant to protect our privacy from the criminal act of circulating private images or photographs not meant for public consumption. The pornography law also protects children and teenagers from indecent images. In Rizieq's case, the police never explained the origins of the pornographic images.

If the police had wanted to investigate Rizieq for pornography, it was the person responsible for circulating the images that should have been investigated first. Circulating pornographic material is a criminal act. The person whose picture has been circulated should instead be regarded as the victim. It's another story if the person creating a pornographic image has malicious intent, and deliberately produces and reproduces said image for business or other interests.

The hasty move by law enforcers in charging Rizieq with pornography only invites unwelcome speculation. The charges against Rizieq seemed to be an attempt to somehow balance out the investigation into former Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnamas blasphemy.

With the end of that case, however, political maneuvering behind Rizieqs case apparently is still in play. Even the polices letter instructing termination of the investigation smells of politics. There are signs that the government has begun to embrace Rizieq and the FPI. This is evident after Rizieq specially thanked the government and the police for issuing the SP3 (order to stop the investigation) letter.

In a video statement broadcast on Front TV, Rizieq also called on members of the public from various groups, ethnicities, and religions to maintain order during the simultaneous regional head elections held this year, as well as the 2019 legislative and presidential elections. But Rizieq has always been known to vigorously attack those of other faiths as well as to call for opposition to the government.

Political nuances behind the termination of Rizieq's investigation have tarnished our law as the means to uphold justice. Instead, the law has become a tool for these political games. The termination is believed to be the result of top echelons' meddling with law enforcement institutions. The aim could well have been to increase President Joko Widodo's popularity in the eyes of some Muslims, particularly those sympathetic to Rizieq.

The government should have remained firm in its stance toward Rizieq and the FPI. The pornography case certainly should not have been pursued. Instead, Rizieq could have been indicted under many other charges. For example the FPI's vigilante action to destroy cafés they feel to be "dens of immorality." The police also still need to further investigate FPI's involvement in the 2011 attack against and murder of Ahmadis in Cikeusik, Pandeglang, Banten. Rizieq must be held accountable if the FPI's involvement is proven.

President Jokowi indeed needs to encourage various groups to create a more pleasant political climate, unlike the current one riddled with hatred and religious incitement. But the President, in the effort to create a more soothing political climate, should not justify all means. Toying with the law to embrace a group that has been politicizing religion is clearly an unwise move.

Read the full article in this week's edition of Tempo English Magazine

 


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