JAKARTA - The Jakarta City Police have planned to arrest the secretary general of the hard-line group Islam Defenders Front (FPI), Novel Bamu'min, for allegedly being responsible for a riot during a protest in front of the City Hall compound, Central Jakarta, on Friday, in which more than 10 police officers were injured.
Jakarta Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Rikwanto said on Sunday that police would arrest Novel because he failed to turn himself in.
"We are now searching for Habib NV," he said, referring to Novel.
Rikwanto said besides arresting Novel, the police also asked for FPI to submit the names of their members who were involved in the protest that erupted into what police called a "coordinated riot".
The spokesman said that according to the announcement letter of the protest sent to the police, Novel was the coordinator of the FPI members who staged the protest against the appointment of Jakarta Deputy Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, a Protestant Christian of Chinese descent, to replace as governor president-elect and outgoing Governor Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.
Jakarta Police say they will arrest Novel once they find him The police wanted to arrest Novel on Friday but FPI chairman Habib Rizieq refused to turn him over Gerindra Party official said FPI always coordinated with Gerindra before taking to the streets The protest turned into a riot after the mob moved from in front of the City Council building to the City Hall area. The riot left more than 10 police officers injured and damaged several cars. One of the victims included the Gambir Police Precinct chief, Adj. Sr. Comr. Sadana Putu.
Jakarta Police chief Insp. Gen. Unggung Cahyono had said that FPI had engineered the rally to end in violence as the protesters - some of whom travelled from Bandung, Majalengka and Tasikmalaya in West Java to attend - arrived with rocks and manure already in their trucks.
The police had actually planned to arrest Novel on Friday, but FPI chairman M. Rizieq Shihab, better known as Habib Rizieq, refused to turn him over. The FPI chairman instead gave up an assistant, Irwan.
The riot was the second protest held by the hardline group this month. The police refused to take sterner action against the members involved in the first protest because no obvious violence had taken place, although many threats were uttered against Ahok and other Jakartans of Chinese descent.
FPI is notorious for using violence to "reinforce Islamic teachings." However, not many of the cases end up in court.
Some of the cases that caused its members in various parts of the country to have been jailed for involvement in violent acts included an attack on a peace rally in Jakarta in 2008 when FPI chairman Habib Rizieq was sentenced to 18 months in prison.
FPI is known to have informal ties with defeated presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto, who founded Gerindra Party.
On Saturday, Gerindra Party official Fajar Siddiq said FPI usually coordinated their actions with the party.
Fajar said the violence was unnecessary and would have been avoidable if the hardline group had spoken with Gerindra Party officials first, as they normally do before such events.
Fajar said the FPI would always talk with them first before hitting the streets.
"That is why I am confused. Why didn't they do that this time?" Fajar said Saturday, as quoted by kompas.com.
Gerindra's relationship with Ahok, who was a Gerindra politician when he campaigned for the deputy governor's position alongside Jokowi, soured when Ahok resigned from the party in protest of Gerindra's support to the new Regional Elections Law, which removed the direct election mechanism for regional leaders.