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Indonesian President labelled a 'dictator' as ban on hard-line Islamist organisations condemned by some groups
ABC Radio Australia - July 13, 2017
On Wednesday the Government announced the equivalent of a presidential decree, which was clearly aimed at hard-line Islamic groups that most recently led mass protests against Jakarta's now jailed Christian Governor Busuki Tjahaja Purnama, also known as Ahok.
In the firing line are groups like Hizbut Tahrir (HTI), which immediately lashed out at the decision, describing President Joko Widodo as a dictator.
"The Government hopes for people to remain calm," Indonesia Security Minister and formal General Wiranto said in announcing the presidential order, known in Indonesia as a Perppu.
"It's meant solely for maintaining unity, to maintain the oneness of the nation." The minister refused to outline which mass organisation they would try to shut down first.
But those like the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), who worked to have Ahok jailed for blasphemy, are also undoubtedly the target.
Widodo accused of being dictator president
HTI supports an Islamic state and the implementation of sharia law across the country, but is not known for violence and is legal in Australia. It immediately announced its decision to challenge the measure in the constitutional court.
"We'll study this kind of law and after that we will maybe make a new strategy so that we can continue our activity," HTI's Indonesian spokesman Ismail Yusanto told the ABC.
He condemned Mr Widodo and rejected suggestions that HTI was radical. "No, no, no. Please consider us truly Muslim," he said. "Joko Widodo has become a dictator President."
Ban a 'backward move' for democracy in Indonesia
Indonesian analysts and human rights groups expressed concern at the measure, which has not been passed through the Indonesian Parliament or tested in the courts.
"This Perppu is a threat to democracy and the constitution," legal expert Irman Sidin told the ABC. He said it was the first time a government had issued such a ruling since the fall of former dictator Suharto.
"In my opinion, the content of the Perppu is a backward move for democracy in this country," former justice minister Yusril Ihza Mahendra said. "It opens up a chance for arbitrariness and it's not in line with objectives of reform."
Human Rights Watch also condemned the move, describing it as draconian, while others linked the decision to the battle for the presidency.
An election is due to be held in 2019.