Indonesia bans militant group Islamic Defenders Front

Jakarta (AP) – Indonesia on Wednesday banned a militant Muslim group with a long record of vandalizing nightspots, hurling stones at Western embassies and attacking religious rivals.

The security affairs minister, Mohammad Mahfud, told reporters that the Islamic Defenders Front, known by its Indonesian acronym FPI, had continued to carry out activities that violate order and security even though it was disbanded last year as a mass organization.

The government also banned the use of the FPI symbols and attributes.

The group, which wants Islamic Shariah law to apply to Indonesia’s 230 million Muslims, has gained significant influence in recent years through humanitarian and charity work.

It was a key organizer of massive street protests in 2016 and 2017 against the Christian governor of Jakarta, who was subsequently imprisoned for blasphemy.

Its leader, Rizieq Shihab, turned himself in to authorities earlier this month after he was accused of inciting people to breach pandemic restrictions by holding events with large crowds.