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Indonesia moves against pro-caliphate group

May 8, 2017

The Jakarta government has decided to disband the Hizbut Tahrir organization that seeks to establish a global Islamic caliphate. The movement claims to be nonviolent, and has active chapters in Australia and the UK.

Indonesien | Proteste in Jakarta
Image: Getty Images/AFP/A. Berry

The activities of Hizbut Tahrir were not in line with the pluralistic state ideology in Muslim-majority Indonesia, the nation's top security minister said on Monday.

"After careful consideration, the government deems it necessary to take legal action to disband [the group] throughout Indonesia," said Chief Security Minister Wiranto.Hizbut Tahrir wants to unite all Muslims in a global caliphate under Sharia law, but the movement insists it only uses non-violent means.

'Grand plan' to undermine government

Hizbut Tahrir was "causing friction in society," according to Wiranto. He added that the move to disband it did not mean that the government was against Islamic movements in general.

The organization has chapters in Australia and Great Britain, but is banned in several Middle Eastern and Asian countries. Their representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In a rare 2011 interview with the news agency AP, the movement's Indonesian chairman Rochmat Labib said his groups "grand plan" was to undermine trust in the government in the following decade.

"That's what we are doing now: converting people from democracy, secularism and capitalism to Islamic ideology," he said.

Role in governor's downfall

The group was involved in mass rallies against the Christian governor of Jakarta over his alleged blasphemy last year.

Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama previously criticized his opponents by saying they used a Quran verse against him. The quote from the Muslim holy book implies that Muslims should not choose non-Muslims as leaders. The governor, who is better known under his nickname of Ahok, later clarified his remarks by saying that he did not criticize the verse itself.

However, the incident was enough to trigger rallies in Jakarta and see Ahok go on trial for blasphemy. The verdict is expected on Tuesday. Ahok has since lost the election to a Muslim rival.

dj/rt (AP, dpa)