Before going to Saudi Arabia for three years in 2017, Rizieq Shihab played an important role in Indonesia’s politics and its affiliation with religion. Now that he’s returned, what does it mean for Indonesian politics?
As the leader of FPI, Rizieq Shihab is known as a vocal figure on issues regarding religion being used to mobilise politics. In past elections, Rizieq has openly been against Ahok, the former governor of Jakarta, and has been an avid supporter of Prabowo Subianto.
According to Luky Sandra, a political observer from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences, “Rizieq and his mass organisation vehicle will be seen when people use their services in political situations.” as quoted by BBC Indonesia
As well as his direct involvement in Indonesian politics, Rizieq has been involved in a number of legal cases.
Upon his return to Indonesia, Rizieq Shihab faces a handful of legal battles. It was rumoured that the Indonesian government put in place obstacles so he couldn’t return from Saudi Arabia, but it was later confirmed by Mahfud MD, the Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs that the government did not in any way prevent his return.
“Rizieq has the same legal rights and obligations as any other citizen, so his right to return was protected,” said Mahfud
However, Rizieq emphasised that his return was purely due to his own efforts and came without the help of the Indonesian government. “If anyone claims to have helped the Saudi Arabian government with my return, that’s a big lie, it’s a hoax,” he declared.
A number of issues are said to await his arrival in Indonesia, including the wedding of his fourth daughter. It has been noted that this is the sixth time Rizieq has been reported to return to Indonesia since 2017 when he declared he would be staying in Saudi Arabia.
Rizieq has reportedly returned to Indonesia because he has been summoned by police to undergo investigations regarding sexual assault allegations and a number of other legal cases. Rizieq’s lawyer, Sugito Atmo Prawiro said that his client “has no legal problem whatsoever in Indonesia”.
He has faced other legal complications including pornography distribution allegations, and a blasphemy case around disregarding Christian beliefs. All legal cases surrounding Rizieq have been dismissed by police as of now.
Image credits: Detik