Threats of violent extremism follow Indonesia’s elections

Good luck taking on these lads. Indonesia’s “Robocop” police.

As I wrote back in April, Indonesia’s neighbours would be keeping a nervous eye on that nation’s presidential elections. Indonesia is threatened by the same kind of violent polarisation that is dividing democracies around the world. The world’s largest Islamic nation is also under threat from the march of fundamentalist Islam in South-East Asia.

Since election results were released last week, there have indeed been outbreaks of violent protest. Now an exiled Islamic cleric appears to be exhorting his followers to further violence.

A leading radical Islamic cleric has urged his followers to attend ­Jakarta rallies for the “martyrs” of last week’s post-election riots and to “wage war” against anyone who tries to stop them, raising the prospect of further mass violence ahead of this weekend’s Eid holiday.

Indonesian authorities have refused permits for supporters of defeated presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto to stage protests in central Jakarta this week to mark the deaths of eight people killed during rioting after the ­release of election results last week.

But an incendiary four-minute video showing footage of the violence set to a fiery audio statement by Rizieq ­Shihab, the self-exiled leader of the vigilante Islamic ­Defenders’ Front (FPI), began circulating through Islamist chat rooms late on Tuesday.

Rizieq was behind the campaign to jail Jakarta’s Christian former governor in 2016 and fled Indonesia for the Islamic holy land of Mecca in 2017 after he was charged with treason and ­pornography offences.

Yesterday, he called on supporters to peacefully attend the rallies but to “attack and kill” anyone who “bothers” or attacks them.

It hardly seems “peaceful” to exhort your followers to “wage war”.

“Wage war on all who wage war against the ulemas (Muslim scholars) and the people. Fight anyone who fight against the ulemas and the people. Attack and kill anyone who attack and kill ­ulemas and the people. Blood for blood, wound for wound, a life for a life. Don’t be afraid. Live nobly or die as martyrs.”

Indonesian authorities and international experts are keeping a nervous eye on what appears to be an alarming trend.

National police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo told The Australian the video was under investigation to determine whether it violated laws against hate speech and ­inciting criminal acts […]

Security officials have claimed last week’s violence was organised by several groups, including one linked to Islamic State and another to a retired special forces general accused of smuggling weapons to Jakarta.

Several senior Prabowo campaign figures have been arrested in relation to an alleged plot to ­assassinate several senior figures in the Jokowi administration.

Even though Islamic State have been routed from their self-declared caliphate in the Middle East, experts have been warning that many of their followers have simply dispersed, filtering into countries around the world and fostering local Islamic terror movements.

Quinton Temby, a visiting fellow with the Indonesian program at Singapore’s ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute, said…“One thing I am seeing which I have never seen before is a convergence on Telegram (chat rooms) of ISIS militants and sympathisers in Indonesia and FPI and other militant Islamists,” Dr Temby said yesterday.

“They’re finding common cause in the issue of police brutality, and we are starting to see among these militant groups the spread of this idea — frequently (promulgated) by ISIS — that the government is tyrannical.’’

Another dangerous trend was a heightened polarisation between those who supported Mr Joko and pro-Prabowo groups — “two sides who seem to be living in completely different information ecosystems”, he added.

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