Islamist's outburst in talk show outrages Indonesians

Disrespectful behaviour by a spokesman for the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) shows the vigilante group's true colours, Muslim leaders say.

By Aditya Surya for Khabar Southeast Asia in Jakarta

July 24, 2013
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Perceptions of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) sank even lower in the eyes of the Indonesian public last month when a spokesman for the hardline group threw a glass of water at a university professor during a debate on a morning talk show aired live on private television network TVOne.

  • Members of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) hold a rally in Jakarta in August 2009 to warn night club owners to close their businesses during Ramadan. FPI spokesman Munarman was roundly criticised for throwing water at a university professor while the two were debating Ramadan raids on a live talk show on June 28th. [Bay Ismoyo/AFP]

    Members of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) hold a rally in Jakarta in August 2009 to warn night club owners to close their businesses during Ramadan. FPI spokesman Munarman was roundly criticised for throwing water at a university professor while the two were debating Ramadan raids on a live talk show on June 28th. [Bay Ismoyo/AFP]

The show, which aired June 28th, was discussing what kind of steps the police would take this year to prevent vigilante groups from conducting vice raids during Ramadan. National Police Spokesman Boy Rafli Amar was one of the guests via videolink.

FPI spokesman Munarman and University of Indonesia Sociology Professor Thamrin Amal Tomagola were seated side by side on a sofa in the studio, flanked by the hosts of the show "Apa Kabar Indonesia Pagi," when a testy discussion on the topic took a .

After Thamrin commented that political alliances could make it difficult for local leaders to rein in hardline groups, Munarman insisted at length that groups take matters into their own hands because police don't enforce existing regulations.

When Thamrin tried to interject and defend his point, Munarman seized a glass of water, dashed it in the older man's face, and leapt to his feet, saying, "Shut up! You shut up when I am talking."

The broadcast quickly cut away, but clips of the exchange flooded YouTube, and social media lit up with outrage over the outburst. Religious leaders joined in condemning it.

A bad example for Muslims

Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) Nuril Arifin Husein told reporter that Munarman should not present such a combative attitude because he is an example for his followers.

"Maybe Munarman is not yet ready to be an Islamic leader," he told Khabar Southeast Asia. "He will not be a leader if he is not able to control himself."

"It was an embarrassing attitude, but you know, it shows the real face of FPI. They could not respect other people's opinions," said Husain Maghbrib, an Islamic cleric in Jakarta. "I do not think FPI is standing for its name, 'Islamic Defenders Front'. Looking at their attitude, are they defending Islam? As a Muslim, I feel like he is simply defending himself."

Meanwhile, Hendardi, chairman of the Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace, said Munarman's action was inappropriate for a democratic society.

"In democracy, no matter whether we agree or disagree during a debate or discussion, we must appreciate the opinion," he told Khabar. "Munarman's actions are a reflection of his organisation, which always imposes its views on others."

An affront to free speech

In a statement on its website, the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) asked TVOne to apologise to the public and refrain from inviting guests like Munarman on air. It even encouraged Thamrin to take legal action against the FPI spokesman.

"Munarman's violent action threatens free speech and democracy in Indonesia. This action not only affects Thamrin Amal Tomagola, but it also potentially caused public fear," the statement read.

Many people urged Thamrin to report Munarman to the police, but the sociologist declined to do so, noting that a top police official witnessed the incident first hand.

"Let the public judge, and give appropriate social punishment," he tweeted after the show. "I don't want to respond to thugs."

Reader Comments
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    • umar
      September 15, 2014 @ 02:09:43AM
    • In truth, the face of our leader is one that we can include in the issue addressed above. They want to further their own interests but look at what happens when their wickedness is in front of our eyes. Where is our law enforcement? Meanwhile, when an organization acts in defense or takes action, then they find excuses to cast blame, those who in fact do not know what the issues are. Hopefully we become wise in assessing something and won't act arbitrarily according to our whims. People who always speak of democracy are not necessarily those who would carry it out and they are often the first to violate democracy. Let us hope that everyone realizes our sins to which we will be held accountable in this world and the afterlife except for those without a God.
    • indi
      June 5, 2014 @ 06:06:25AM
    • Oh my gosh, reading this news makes me sad. Things have strayed so far from Pancasila.
    • Bhuyung
      May 8, 2014 @ 06:05:18PM
    • Typical of the FPI, they must think themselves great. What kind of Islam are you? Change the FPI name, stop using Islam's name. That is not taught in Islam, we are taught to respect elders. Change that name, you think you're so tough claiming to act on behalf of Islam when you are nothing but hypocrites. Deepen your understanding of your religion, don't just become blindly fanatical Muslims. Restructure your organization, change your name and fix the quality of your members.
    • Islamic
      December 13, 2013 @ 12:12:33AM
    • Indeed, Munawarman was wrong, but the blame should not rest on him alone. People have different temperaments and Thamrin was also wrong: why interrupt someone who has a bad temper? As Muslims, we should unite and not put each other down. In the public eye of the world, Islam already has a bad name thanks to people who call themselves Muslims but continue to engage in debauchery (corrupt parliament). There should not be divisions in Islamic understanding, as we see in Muhammadiyah and NU. We are Islam, we are one. Through goodwill we can have tolerance for human diversity.
    • airmata kasih
      August 23, 2013 @ 06:08:14AM
    • People, unlike angels, are flawed. Yet, there exists within the human soul the desire to try and portray a cynical picture of the efforts of a group that is genuinely fighting for the sharia. In my view, Munarwan saw a tendency in that direction. Look at Egypt, its own army killing innocent Muslims, engaging in a coup to overthrow president Morsi who was elected by his people.
    • Adi
      August 15, 2013 @ 03:08:33AM
    • Thamrin is a figure in JIL.
    • bagong
      August 8, 2013 @ 12:08:16PM
    • FPI is actually needed for shock therapy, to give direct warning to those who indulge in debauchery and authorities who understand their duties.
    • Ichsan
      August 8, 2013 @ 07:08:28AM
    • a grup of people that use the name of Islam but doesn/t behave like a religious people is disgracing their own Allah, they are not defending their religion but defending themselves, religion is just used to gather simpathy from the public.
    • Agus
      August 7, 2013 @ 09:08:43AM
    • Agus
      August 7, 2013 @ 09:08:04AM
    • ari
      August 6, 2013 @ 01:08:31AM
    • So, if someone else is talking, don't interrupt them.
    • Mbah Kromo
      August 4, 2013 @ 05:08:45AM
    • FPI is Devil.. that it
    • leni siswati
      August 1, 2013 @ 12:08:04AM
    • Enough is enough, I think that this is a disgrace for Islam. Those who consider themselves Muslims should not spread this news around because it damages the image of Islam. We should try not to spread this around and these individuals should try to better themselves.
    • davis
      August 9, 2013 @ 06:08:22AM
    • The problem about Extremist Islamists needs urgent attention from the higher authorities,firstly on laying down appropriate policies to deal with these groups(not just FPI or picemeal actions). secondly,it amzes me when one is violating the same principles of a religion they pretend (proclaimimg is irrelvant,if actions are contrary to the basis of that same religion)to be defending. I think,this where,moderate Islam is failing us by keeping silent,when people misuse the name of religion,to harm others. Most of the hardline Islamists,are by nature very prone to bursts of anger and provocative of other people.They are against people taking intoxicating drink in bars-which is usually,licensed anyway but they themselves at the same time engage in taking drugs, constantly.Most of them are drunk with prohibited drugs,7/24 -and police know it but are just sitting on the fence. recently,they have gone further,and are using drugs(chemicals) as weapons against the people they do not like,The anti-drugs unit of the police needs to be well equipped and supported to fight these gangs. Unfortunately,they have iunfiltrated colleges and universities where they collude with some bad staff elements to use the hostels as hide outs for drug traffficking,while authorities look the otherside or even offer some form of protection from interference by other external police units. These problems will become compounded and the society and Government will feel the effects, for years to come.
    • leni siswati
      August 1, 2013 @ 12:08:52AM
    • Settle down, let's not go on and on about this. In my opinion, this is a disgrace to Islam and we should not continue to talk about it. As a Muslim, I am ashamed of people who behave like Munarman, but I hope that, because this is disgraceful, people won't continue to make a big thing out of it. Muslims should hide the disgrace of their brothers.
    • Tri
      July 31, 2013 @ 12:07:11PM
    • A strange and inexplicable country. Chicken thieves get thrown in jail, yet people like the FPI are left alone. What is this country coming to? Seeing Indonesia today saddens me.
    • hari haryanto
      July 31, 2013 @ 06:07:43AM
    • Munarman is a wretched Muslim.
    • puguh
      August 6, 2013 @ 11:08:26PM
    • A true Muslim possesses the following characteristics: 1. Intellectual Intelligence 2. Emotional Intelligence 3. Spiritual Intelligence None of these is apparent in Munarman. It is a shame that the flag of Islam is stained by his behavior.
    • insan Pluralis
      July 30, 2013 @ 01:07:31PM
    • FPI is like a hungry dog. Why haven't these damn FPI pigs been disbanded yet? As a Muslim I am ashamed because they sully the name of Islam. Unbelievable.
    • Abu Hasna
      July 30, 2013 @ 06:07:09AM
    • (locals support FPI closing prostitution in Kendal)
    • anas
      July 29, 2013 @ 10:07:14PM
    • This is because a person was interrupted before he could finish what he was saying, of course he was angry. That Thamrin just keeps talking and Munarman never interrupted what Thamrin was saying. Your eyes have been blinded, what is right you say to be wrong, what is wrong you say to be right. Hey, God is not blind. If you feel that you are right, face him when you die. Remember, God is not blind.
    • noel
      August 4, 2013 @ 03:08:03AM
    • God is not blind, but Anas is.
    • bayu anugrah
      July 29, 2013 @ 04:07:07PM
    • In my opinion, the water pouring was a good thing and I completely condone it because he did not give Munawarman a chance to speak. Also, blaming the riots in Ambon and Maluku on Muslims who incited the unrest there is slander. Perfect for Munawarman.
    • imam nawawi
      July 29, 2013 @ 05:07:32AM
    • There should be those who take firm action against depravity like the FPI because sometimes the law here just sits idly by and turns a blind eye because of money. But as an Islamic leader, take a leaf out of Khalifah Umar bin Khattab's book, he who was able to temper his anger because of Allah even though people spat in his face.
    • Burhan
      July 29, 2013 @ 01:07:03AM
    • The actions that reflect that organisation are an embarrassment to Islam.
    • Marin
      July 28, 2013 @ 11:07:00PM
    • I did not witness the incident.. But, I support the FPI movement. The reason is that this movement is enforcing righteousness and preventing injustice. What I do not agree with is if FPI hurts other people, once again do not hurt other people. But if you are backed into a corner or need to defend your own safety, you have no choice. I hope that depravity in Indonesia can be eradicated. At least it should be decreased. Who else if not us? Let us not heed the example set by infidel countries. They legalize such matters to gain support from a certain group or a country. Do we want people to commit debauchery in our country's environment? Or prostitution? Would we want a household or group or country to be built from ill-gotten gains? Remember, the torment dealt by Allah is very painful.
    • ucx
      August 12, 2013 @ 01:08:38AM
    • Now I ask you, Marin, where does FPI get its money from? Did you know that FPI receives a cut from opening discotheques? If you don't know anything, don't comment, Idiot.
    • edenk
      August 15, 2013 @ 02:08:17AM
    • Life is interconnected, there are rich people and there are poor people. Without the laborers, would rich people be able to build a house? It is the same with good people and the depraved, this is called the colors of life. If everyone were rich would everything be good? It would be monotonous.
    • sakragingerbeard
      July 28, 2013 @ 08:07:56AM
    • Good, I salute Munarman. Thamrin exhibited a lack of propriety. When someone is expressing their opinion, Thamrin should be quiet.
    • Ichsan
      July 28, 2013 @ 06:07:47AM
    • We should not listen to just one side. For someone to do what Munarman did there must have been a reason. Why was Munarman constantly interrupted while he was speaking? Is that polite? It is natural that Munarman became angry.
    • wong
      July 28, 2013 @ 05:07:02AM
    • With actions like these they are no better than ducks.
    • Andi
      July 27, 2013 @ 03:07:10PM
    • Tamagola does not understand the conduct of a discussion, inciting emotion like that, a typical liberal. Just like JIL, which needs to dealt with because they are destroying the Islamic faith.
    • black flag
      July 27, 2013 @ 01:07:03PM
    • Thamrin Tamagola deserved to be treated like that. I would even suggest that he would have gotten what he truly deserved if the liquid inside the glass was acid.
    • Giman
      July 27, 2013 @ 12:07:01PM
    • Disband FPI. Whatever the reason. Support the fight against evil with virtue.
    • adrian
      July 27, 2013 @ 11:07:06AM
    • Let's just hit that FPI spokesperson with a dog cane.
    • Muhjiyamto
      July 27, 2013 @ 09:07:07AM
    • For FPI, I pray that hopefully the FPI leaders will soon die.
    • Rudiarto
      July 27, 2013 @ 04:07:16AM
    • It seems that for the time being, we do not need to read, discuss or debate about FPI! Sign the "Petition to Disband the FPI Organization" initiated by NGOs soon. It is the most concrete and gentlemanly measure.
    • hamba allah
      July 27, 2013 @ 12:07:50AM
    • Our country should create a monthly, one-day national holiday so we can read the Epistle of Yasin together all over Indonesia so that leaders who cheat and who are cruel are swiftly given the punishment they deserve. God willing we will be safe and no longer need the KPK or the police. Nice, right? Fun, right?
    • ucx
      August 12, 2013 @ 01:08:30AM
    • Squirt, squirt! You should all read it together. Do you think this country belongs to your grandparents or something? This is the United Republic of Indonesia, man! Pancasila, not an Islamic country, you dolt.
    • Light
      July 27, 2013 @ 12:07:54AM
    • It was rude, interrupting someone who is speaking has always been prohibited.
    • Dulah
      July 26, 2013 @ 08:07:44PM
    • The devil is adept at changing his look and form to deceive people. Even though they are clad in white robes (symbolizing purity?) their words and actions are destructive and we should all know that purity symbolized with clothing is just a camouflage. "When the time has come, my children and grandchildren, you will witness the devil wandering around wearing white robes," I still remember the words of my great-grandfather. The time has come, it is now.
    • Joe
      July 26, 2013 @ 05:07:04AM
    • Islam teaches us to be respectful.
    • bagus_alamin
      July 25, 2013 @ 05:07:38AM
    • Scoundrel! Munarman.
    • dewa
      July 24, 2013 @ 10:07:55AM
    • In my opinion it is appropriate that such actions be dealt with so that people stop making a mockery of the law because in our country the law has always been mocked by people who wish to destroy their own country through methods and actions that violate the rule of law. This is why stern law enforcement is much needed so that the country doesn't succumb to chaos due to the weakness of the law itself. Law enforcement and legal action must move forward and we will definitely support all of it.
    • hari haryanto
      July 31, 2013 @ 06:07:47AM
    • True evidence of democracy is how law enforcement responds to Munarwan who is clearly violating democracy.

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