Jakarta – The immigration office denied on Monday that the government had issued an order prohibiting Muslim cleric Habib Rizieq Shihab from returning to Indonesia, rejecting Rizieq's claim that he could not come home because of such an order.
Immigration Directorate General spokesperson Sam Fernando said the immigration office had yet to issue any letter in regard to the matter, as reported by kompas.com.
Rizieq had claimed in a video aired by Indonesian Islamic channel Front TV on YouTube that he could not come back to Indonesia because of a letter he called a surat pencekalan, a prohibition against leaving or entering Indonesia, usually issued by the immigration office.
Later, Hanif Alatas, Rizieq's son-in-law delivered a statement in a press conference, showing a letter in Arabic, claiming that the letter was from Saudi Arabia's immigration office. The letter explained to Rizieq that he was not allowed to leave Saudi Arabia based on two order letters, one dated June 15 last year and one on Dec. 7 last year. The reason for the prohibition was "security".
"Don't twist the facts. He overstayed there because he was not allowed to leave, not the other way around," Hanif said in the video. Rizieq's visa for staying in Saudi Arabia expired on June 10 last year.
Hanif said his father-in-law had attempted to come home several times but he was unable to do so because he could not pass immigration at the airport. Hanif said Rizieq had asked the Saudi government, why he was not allowed to leave Saudi Arabia. Rizieq claimed that the Saudi authorities told him that "there were people from your government who asked us not to do so".
Islam Defender Front secretary-general Munarman said during the press conference that the government had to recognize that one of its citizens had a problem coming home. "Don't keep saying, no problem, just come home. The fact is, he wants to come home but cannot come home," he said. Munarman insisted that it was a human rights violation. "Don't ever say he has no problem coming home, it's an insult," he said.