For the first time last year in Makassar, the Islamic Defenders’ Front (FPI) conducted raids on food outlets trading during daylight hours in the Islamic fasting month. Raids during Ramadhan are not in themselves new. Another organisation, Laskar Jundullah, launched a series of raids on hotels and entertainment venues in the early 2000s. But these attacks on food outlets marked FPI’s emergence as South Sulawesi’s leading Islamic paramilitary organisation, and one that was more confident than its predecessors to intervene in new areas of daily life.
Across Indonesia, many groups have long disapproved of FPI and their vigilante attacks. When the group raided an interfaith gathering at the national monument in Jakarta in 2008, former president Abdurrahman Wahid called for the group to be disbanded. Most recently, Adat (traditional culture) groups rejected FPI’s attempt to form a branch in the Central Kalimantan’s capital city Palangkaraya, a crowd gathering at the airport to ensure FPI leaders did not disembark from their commercial flight. In Makassar, too, human rights groups and secular NGOs organised large protests against FPI’s vigilante attacks.
Henky Widjaja is a PhD researcher at the Anthropology Department of Leiden University and currently stationed at the Van Vollenhoven Institute for Law, Governance and Development, Leiden Law School. Previously he worked as a consultant for various development programs in Indonesia. As a consultant and researcher he is interested in agrarian political economy, regional development and Indonesian politics. firstname.lastname@example.org