Crowd storms Cilik Riwut airport to bar FPI leader's entry

Crowd storms Cilik Riwut airport to bar FPI leader's entry

Leader of Islam Defender Front Habib Rizieq (central) in a press briefing in Jakarta. (FOTO ANTARA/M Agung Rajasa)

... the DAD had decided to oppose the formation of FPI branches in all of Central Kalimantan...
Palangka Raya, Central Kalimantan (ANTARA News) - Hundreds of people on Saturday forced their way on to the apron of Cilik Riwut airport to prevent the arrival of FPI (Islam Defenders Front) leader Habib Rizieq in Palangka Raya.

The action under the coordination of the Dayak Customary Council (DAD) and the Dayak Youths Union (GAPDI) was part of demonstrations in the city to reject the opening of an FPI branch in Central Kalimantan.

The crowd had earlier gathered at the airport after learning that Habib Rizieq and a few FPI central executive board members would come to Palangka Raya to install the leadership of the FPI's Central Kalimantan branch and conduct a tabligh akbar (mass prayer service).

At a meeting last Friday (Feb 10), the DAD had decided to oppose the formation of FPI branches in all of Central Kalimantan.

After hearing word that FPI Habib Rizieq would arrive at Cilik Riwut airport from Jakarta on a Sriwijaya flight, the demonstrators besieged the airport and after the plane had landed forced their way on the airport's apron.

Airport security officers tried but failed to block the demonstrators' move as they were far outnumbered by the crowd.

Meanwhile, the pilot of the Sriwijaya plane, on learning that there was a crowd on the airport's apron, initially decided to take off again without allowing the plane's passengers to disembark.

But airport officials made him change his mind, and the plane's passengers could get off the plane after all.

As the plane's passengers made their way to the arrival gate, demonstrators watched them one by one to spot Habib Rizieq and other FPI people but they were not among the disembarking passengers.

Sriwijaya officers said Habib Rizieq's name was not on the plane's manifest.

But according to a few passengers they had seen three men wearing white turbans and another man wearing ordinary attire believed to be FPI people from Jakarta on the plane.

Based on the information, the head of the Palangka Raya police traffic unit, Adjunct Commissioner Aries, who was on duty at the airport asked the Sriwijaya Air authority and the plane's pilot to tell the four FPI people not to disembark but return to Jakarta. (HAJM)

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