Minister Marsudi has always asked all representatives to remain neutral
Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Arrmanatha Nasir, accused Muhammad Rizieq Shihab or Habib Rizieq, an Indonesian Islamic scholar and founder and leader of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) in Indonesia, of slandering Minister for Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi. In a video, which went viral across social media, Shihab, who currently resides in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, accused Marsudi of asking representatives abroad, especially in Saudi Arabia, to vote for a particular pair of presidential candidates.

At a press briefing held in Cikini, Jakarta, on Monday, to refute this allegation, Nasir said, "It is not true at all. Minister Marsudi has always asked all representatives to remain unbiased."

In the four-minute video, which was widely circulated across WhatsApp and Telegram post the minister's work visit to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on March 4, Shihab accused the minister of "threatening the freedom of [the] Indonesian Embassy and [the] Indonesian Consulate General staff".

Shihab also called on supporters of the presidential and vice presidential candidates number 02 Prabowo Subianto-Sandiaga Uno to fight all forms of fraud ahead of the general elections.

Defending Marsudi, Nasir stressed that the Minister had visited Saudi Arabia to inaugurate a one-stop office for Indonesian citizen protection services at the Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. "The minister only visited the Consulate General's office in Jeddah; she didn't stop by at the Indonesian Embassy in Riyadh," he clarified.

Confirming Nasir's statement, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director of Indonesian Citizen and Legal Entity Lalu Muhammad Iqbal said, "I was with Minister Marsudi during her trip to Jeddah, so I know the video was false. She never said anything with regard to a certain set of presidential candidates."

With regard to Shihab's activities in Saudi Arabia, which are often political, Iqbal said that all countries forbid political activities by foreigners in their regions.

"Shihab is still an Indonesian citizen and holds an Indonesian passport, so if any violation is committed, he will still be protected by the Indonesian government," Iqbal stated.

Translator: Azizah Fitriyanti, Safira Hali
Editor: Gusti Nur Cahya Aryani
Copyright © ANTARA 2019