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Prabowo claims FPI leader Rizieq Shihab 'principled', becoming more 'moderate'
CNN Indonesia - October 16, 2018
On April 29 last year, Prabowo and Shihab appeared together at the Istiqlal Mosque in Central Jakarta following after the quick count results showed a victory for Anies Baswedan and Sandiaga Uno in the Jakarta gubernatorial election.
The pair were also seen together at when they attended an event titled Prayers for the Nation to commemorate Supersemar [the alleged letter transferring power from president Sukarno to General Suharto on March 11, 1966] at the At-Tin Mosque, a month before they attended the prayers of thanks for Baswedan and Sandiaga's victory at the Istiqlal Mosque.
Prabowo admits that he has known Shihab for some time. The Greater Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) chairperson says that Shihab is developing in a more moderate direction. Prabowo also says that Shihab is very nationalistic and stands by his principles.
"I've known Habib Rizieq for quite some time, and I have seen many developments in him. I think he is becoming more moderate, more nationalist. He is a person who stands by his principles very strongly", said Prabowo in a special interview with CNN Indonesia on Monday October 15.
Shihab is known to take a "hard-line" against those who oppose his political views and is very critical towards the administration of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.
The culmination of Shihab's political views reared its head during the 2017 Jakarta election. He explicitly called on the capital city's residents to vote for a Muslim leader. Moreover, Shihab was one of the driving forces behind the series of protests known as the 212 actions against incumbent Chinese-Christian Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama.
After he was declared a suspect in an alleged pornography case however, on May 1, 2017 Shihab flew to Saudi Arabia. He has resided in Mecca for more than a year even though the Metro Jaya regional police have dropped the charges against him.
Prabowo managed to meet with Shihab in the Holy City after conducting a pilgrimage in June this year. Prabowo met with Shihab together with National Mandate Party (PAN) Board of Trustees chairperson Amien Rais and Alumni 212 figure Ustaz [Islamic teacher] Ansufri Idrus Sambo.
"Perhaps I feel that with a person such as this... We must always maintain a relationship, must always maintain a dialogue, must always seek the middle path", said Prabowo.
Prabowo rejects the view that Shihab disturbs Indonesia's "kebinekaan" (diversity). According to the former commander of the army's Special Forces (Kopassus), it is excessive to say that Shihab does not accept pluralism. "I don't think he's like that, I think that's excessive", he said.
Prabowo says that Shihab was able to accept the state ideology of Pancasila, the UUD 1945 [1945 Constitution] and the NKRI [Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia] when he signed an integrity pack with the GNPF [the National Movement to Safeguard the Indonesian Ulema Council's Fatwa, the group which initiated the anti-Ahok protests] on September 16.
One of the points in the integrity pact was a willingness to genuinely and consistently implement Pancasila and the UUD 1945.
"You saw the integrity pact that we made, you saw that he [Shihab] firmly went along with accepting Pancasila, NKRI, the UUD 1945, wanted all religions to be protected, wanted all religious figures to be protected, what was lacking, what was lacking in his nationalism?", said Prabowo.
The former commander of the Army's Strategic Reserves Command (Pangkostrad) drew a comparison between Shihab and other religious figures, such as Buddhist and Hindu leaders. Prabowo believes that religious leaders will certainly defend their values, the rituals they adhere to, the clothing they wear.
"So we shouldn't be allergic. If there is some trend, where this person, if he is convinced of his religious beliefs, or doesn't disturb [others] why? Why must we be allergic or have a phobia against this. That's my view", he said.
Aside from talking about Shihab, Prabowo also raised the issue of why he chose recently resigned Jakarta deputy governor Sandiaga Uno as his vice presidential running mate in the 2019 presidential elections, his closeness to President Widodo and the campaign slogan that he is promoting, "Make Indonesia Great Again".
The full interview with Prabowo can be seen on the AFD Now program on CNN TV at 9pm, Friday October 19. (fra/dea)
[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was Cerita Prabowo soal Rizieq yang Semakin Moderat.]
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