Indonesia to disband hard-line Islamic group Hizbut


JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — The top Indonesian security minister said Monday the country’s president has ordered the dissolution of a hard-line Islamic group that seeks a global caliphate for Muslim nations and was behind massive blasphemy protests in Jakarta.

Wiranto, who goes by one name, announced the action against Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia in a brief meeting with reporters and said it was ordered by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo.

Wiranto, who is the coordinating minister for politics, law and security, said the “activities of HTI are strongly indicated to be running against Pancasila (Indonesia’s pluralistic state ideology) and the constitution.”

The move comes after Jokowi’s government was shaken by massive protests in the past six months by conservative Muslim groups against the minority Christian governor of Jakarta, who is accused of blaspheming the Quran.

Wiranto said HTI’s activities “have clearly caused conflict in society” and threaten the integrity of the state. He said dissolution of the group would be achieved through the courts.

Hizbut was one of several hard-line groups behind the Jakarta protests that undermined Indonesia’s reputation abroad for practicing a moderate form of Islam. It is active in dozens of countries despite being banned in some of them and began expanding in Asia several years ago.

Hizbut wants to unite all Muslim countries in a globe-spanning bloc ruled by strict Shariah law. It has a record of targeting university students and professionals, working within countries to try to persuade people to overthrow their secular governments.

Rochmat Labib, the group’s chairman in Indonesia, referred questions to an official spokesman who couldn’t immediately be reached.

In a rare interview with Western media in 2011, Labib told The Associated Press that Hizbut’s “grand plan” in the following decade was to reinforce lack of trust and hope in the government. “That’s what we are doing now: converting people from democracy, secularism and capitalism to Islamic ideology,” he said.

Wiranto said the decision to dissolve Hizbut does not mean the government is against Islamic organizations.

Hizbut members were not among those arrested for suspected treason in December and February. Indonesian police alleged that opponents of Jokowi, including some high-profile Indonesians, plotted to overthrow the government by using the Jakarta protests to cause chaos and occupy government buildings.