Makassar. Three members of the hardline Islamic Defenders Front appeared in court in Makassar on Tuesday to answer to charges of assault and property destruction stemming from raids on an Ahmadiyah complex and restaurants during the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan in August.
Abdul Rahman Assagaf, head of the South Sulawesi chapter of the group, known as the FPI, appeared with two other members, Arifuddin and Ruswandi Abubakar.
“The three defendants are alleged to have abused and assaulted the owner of Warung Coto and another restaurant in AP Pettarani [street], Makassar, in August,” Prosecutor Muhammad Adnan said as he read the indictment aloud in court.
Abdul is also facing charges of incitement of violence for a later attack by an FPI group on an Ahmadiyah complex.
In the Aug. 14 attack, the LPI, a unit of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), smashed several windows at the Indonesian Ahmadiyah Congregation (JAI) complex, including at its mosque, and damaged a car and a motorcycle parked in the compound.
The 30-strong mob also attacked Ahmad, the lone person guarding the JAI secretariat, and two paralegals from the Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) who tried to stop the attack. LPI members also scuffled with riot police sent to the scene to restore order.
The three defendants have been charged with assault and destruction of property for their alleged roles in restaurant raids carried out by the FPI on Aug. 12, during which about 50 FPI members convoyed through the streets looking for open restaurants and food stalls shortly after Friday prayers.
The mob forced three restaurants on Jalan Pettarani to close, and made the owners sign written statements promising that they would not operate during daylight hours for the remainder of the fasting month.
If convicted of the charges, the three defendants face up to five years in prison each.
About 100 police officers were on hand to ensure order during the 15-minute hearing. A group of 50 FPI members showed up to voice support for their comrades, but the scene remained calm.