Jakarta (ANTARA) - Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) leader Habib Rizieq Shihab has written a letter from his cell at the Jakarta Metropolitan Police detention center informing his family and Muslim communities in Indonesia about his health and personal wishes.

In the handwritten letter, dated December 14, 2020, a copy of which was accessed by ANTARA in Jakarta on Tuesday, Shihab said he felt healthy, safe, comfortable, and calm, and was being treated well by the wardens at the detention center.

The well-respected ulema in his letter disseminated by his son-in-law, Habib Hanif bin Abdurrahman Al Athos, also wrote that despite his arrest, he did not feel sorrowful, sad, worried, or afraid.

Instead, in the letter to his family, Habib Rizieq Shihab urged habibs, ulemas, and Muslim communities across Indonesia to remain patient and keep their spirit for continuing the campaign of "akhlaq revolution" for the sake of a better Indonesia.

Derived from the Arabic language, the word "akhlaq" is "most commonly translated as disposition, nature, temper, ethics, morals or manners (of a person)" (Wikipedia, 2020).

The FPI leader also appealed to the people at large to observe the government mandated health protocols, and pray together for an immediate end to the global pandemic of the novel coronavirus disease.

In the letter, which he opened with the Quranic phrase of "Bismillahirrahmanirrahim" (In the name of Allah, the most Merciful, the most Beneficient), Shihab also made several personal requests to his family.

He informed his family that he will fast everyday and needed his meal delivered once a day before the time of breaking fast, along with a thermos of hot tea or milk, and that for his "sahur" (predawn meal), he would prefer to consume dates and snacks.

Shihab also asked for books and daily necessities to be delivered gradually and ended the letter with regards from "HRS who loves you all".

Shihab was named a suspect on December 10, 2020 along with five other people in a case involving the violation of health protocols during events at his home and the FPI headquarters in Petamburan, Central Jakarta, last month.

The five other suspects are head of the organizing committee for the events, Haris Ubaidillah, secretary of the organizing committee for the events, Ali bin Alwi Alatas, FPI commander in charge of security affairs, Maman Suryadi, FPI general chairman responsible for the events, Sobri Lubis, and Idrus, who was in charge of the events’ rundown.

The Jakarta Metropolitan Police had also appealed to government agencies to impose a 20-day travel ban on Shihab and five other suspects to prevent them from traveling abroad.

Shihab, who was charged for violating Articles 160 and 216 of the Criminal Law, showed up for questioning on Saturday (December 12, 2020), while the five other suspects were charged for violating Article 93 of the 2018 Health Quarantine Law and answered the police summons early on Sunday (December 13) and Monday morning (December 14).

Shortly after his interrogation, during which he was asked 84 questions, investigators decided to take the well-respected ulema into police custody.

His transfer to the detention center early on Sunday saddened many of his sympathizers. Several of them shouted "Allahu Akbar" while watching him get escorted to the car that was to take him to the detention center.

Some sympathizers, who gathered with journalists at the Jakarta Metropolitan Police headquarters, did not just shout "Takbir" (Allah is the greatest), but also prayed for God's protection for him.

Shihab wore a Muslim attire and an orange jacket, indicating he had officially been taken into custody, while his hands were handcuffed with a white plastic zip tie.

Several videos of his detention went viral on Youtube channel. One of the videos, released by UAH and UAS Lovers (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jonxnf84tL0), had received more than 83 thousand views by 01.28 p.m. Western Indonesia Standard Time (WIB) on Sunday.

Shihab's lawyer, Aziz Yanuar, had said earlier that his client would abide by the investigators' decision to detain him following questioning.

"Insya Allah (God willing), he is ready for any possible outcome because he is a fighter," Yanuar remarked, adding that his client and team of lawyers had thoroughly thought things out and made necessary preparations regarding the handling of the case.

Meanwhile, National Police spokesperson, Inspector General Argo Yuwono, disclosed that the FPI leader will be detained at the Jakarta Metropolitan Police's Narcotics Investigation Directorate for 20 days, starting December 12, 2020.

Yuwono said investigators decided to detain Shihab in view of some objective and subjective considerations.

Among the points that the investigators took into account were the length of the prison sentence, which could potentially be more than five years, and preventing the accused from destroying evidence, evading arrest, or performing similar crimes.

Responding to Shihab’s detention, the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) pressed for applying fair law enforcement in the case to avoid offending the public’s sense of justice.

"Law must truly be used as an instrument for educating and not as an instrument for targeting," MUI deputy chairman Anwar Abbas stated earlier.

The police's decision to name Shihab as a suspect for violating health protocols for holding events that led to the congregation of people must reflect the use of law as an instrument to edify rather than target, Abbas stated.

Abbas emphasized that the laws enforced against Shihab and his men over holding crowd-drawing events must also be imposed fairly and equally on other community members found breaching the COVID-19 protocols in the country.

Failure to uphold the principle of fair law enforcement and the public’s sense of justice would only create unrest, he cautioned.

"To this end, we hope, without exception, that all people or parties that have breached the COVID-19 rules, as the police have accused Habib Rizieq Shihab of having done, would also be named suspects," he stressed. (INE)

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Editor: Fardah Assegaf
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