Removal of Rizieq banners by TNI sparks questions over military role in civilian realm

The Jakarta Military Command’s decision to take down banners depicting firebrand cleric and Islam Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab has raised questions over the Indonesian Military’s (TNI) participation in civilian matters.

Its involvement is questionable, Institute for Security and Strategic Studies researcher Khairul Fahmi said, adding that the military should avoid actions that may be considered aggressive, such as taking down the FPI banners.

Indonesian Military (TNI) personnel remove unauthorized banners depicting a photo and support to firebrand cleric and Islam Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab during a patrol in Tanah Abang, Central Jakarta on Friday. ( Lotulung)

“The military should not be as aggressive as it was this past week. There should not be any overlap of authorities and functions across state organizations,” Fahmi said on Friday as reported by

The military should not insinuate that the country is under serious threat, he added. “This [taking down banners] intimidates residents and implies that the country will break apart and be in chaos because of the provocative actions of the few.”

Democracy activist group Imparsial deputy director Gufron Mabruri voiced a similar sentiment, questioning the urgency of the TNI’s involvement in removing FPI banners at several locations across Jakarta.

“What is so urgent that the TNI had to take part in taking down FPI banners?” Ghufron said. Read also: Jakarta military commander says he ordered removal of banners depicting Rizieq Shihab

The TNI should follow the proper institutional authorities and instead let the Jakarta administration take down the banners if they had indeed been illegally erected, particularly through the Jakarta Public Order Agency (Satpol PP), he added.

“In the context of Jakarta, there is the Satpol PP, whose tasks include removing [illegal] banners,” he said.

He further said that taking down banners was not part of TNI’s duties, according to the 2004 Law on the TNI, which stipulates that law enforcement and public order are not part of TNI’s authorities.

The TNI should not order its personnel to take part in law enforcement if other agencies are already in charge, he added.

“It could be counterproductive, regardless of political difference.”

Ghufron suggested all parties to prioritize communication and open dialogues to solve their problems.

Previously, Jakarta Military Commander Maj. Gen. Dudung Abdurrachman said he had ordered his subordinates to take down FPI banners, arguing that Satpol PP personnel had already taken them down but FPI supporters kept putting them back up.

“The officers in uniform who removed the banners acted based on my order,” Dudung said on Friday.

He said the TNI would continue taking down banners of those campaigning for a “revolution” or any other similar rhetoric. (ami)

The Jakarta Post

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