05/30/2017, 04.51
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Rizieq Shihab, who led the Islamist fight against Ahok, accused of pornography

The preacher, who has been in Saudi Arabia with his family since last April, has rejected the accusations. Over the past six months, Rizieq has played a major role in Indonesian politics. He has organised many events against Ahok. Islamist rallies have generated strong religious, social, and political tensions. He still faces another six criminal proceedings. He could get up to six years in prison under the same law that his movement has promoted.

Jakarta (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Indonesian police have issued an arrest warrant for a controversial Islamic preacher on charges of pornography. Rizieq Shihab, leader of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), is accused of exchanging pornographic material online with a woman.

The preacher, who has been in Saudi Arabia with his family since April, rejected the allegations. Despite police summons, Ruaryq has not yet returned to Indonesia. His lawyer however said that his visit abroad had nothing to do with his legal problems.

Over the past six months, Rizieq has become an important figure in Indonesian politics. The movement he leads has organised many, often violent, demonstrations against Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, Jakarta`s former governor.

Islamist rallies have generated strong religious, social, and political tensions which, according to some analysts, have led to Ahok`s conviction on 9 May in a controversial blasphemy trial in which Ahok received two years in prison.

For months, Rizieq and the FPI have led a violent slander campaign against Purnama, a Christian and ethnic Chinese, calling on Jakarta voters not to vote for an "infidel" in a Muslim city.

An FPI spokesman said the charges against Rizieq were "baseless" and "orchestrated to criminalise" the cleric. Rizieq's lawyer also claimed that the allegations were made up by Ahok's aupporters.

Considered the face of the true Islam by his supporters and appreciated for his rhetoric, the cleric was imprisoned twice for violence and disturbing the public peace in 2003 and 2008.

At present, Rizieq still faces six other legal proceedings Including one for violating one of the founding principles of the Indonesian state and its first president, and another for offending Catholicism. He expressed doubts about the divine nature of Jesus Christ, angering the Indonesian Catholic community.

In his last trial, Rizieq is accused of violating Indonesia's strict anti-pornography law, by sending pornographic material to activist Firza Husein, who is also under investigation.

Since the start of the year, images and texts of the conversation between them have been ciruclating, fuelling a nationwide scandal.

Rizieq is the head of a movement that has engaged in a battle against sexual promiscuity, prostitution and alcohol in Indonesian society.

The FPI was one of the leading Islamist groups in the campaign for anti-pornography legislation, the same for which its leader now could get up to six years in prison.

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