Jakarta – The Jakarta Police on Wednesday named an East Jakarta resident a suspect of hate speech after he threatened to expel "the Chinese" from the neighborhood.
The chairman of the Betawi Islam Movement (Goib), Andy M. Saleh, was arrested in his house in Kramat Jati, East Jakarta.
Andy allegedly was the mastermind behind a banner containing disturbing messages that went viral earlier this month. The banner was an invitation for people, particularly Muslims, to join a protest against the construction of a cinema near a mosque in Pusat Grosir Cililitan (PGC) shopping center in Kramat Jati.
"He made the concept, ordered the banner and put it up himself," Jakarta Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Yusri Yunus said on Thursday as quoted by kompas.com.
"We're still investigating his motives. He said he did it for financial reasons. He made and put up the banner a few days before Jan. 17, the day a protest against the theater construction was slated to be held," he said.
The police did not elaborate on how putting up the banner would have benefited Andy financially.
The banner reads: "Join the protest to defend Islam and the pribumi (natives), and object to the construction of XXI theater near As-Sinah Mosque in PGC. The protest will be on Friday, January 17, 2020, at 1 p.m. (after Friday prayer). Let's get the [expletive] Chinese out of our Cililitan."
Less than 24 hours after the banner was put up, officers from the police, the military and the Public Order Agency tore it down. Shortly after that, Andy was summoned by the police to be questioned as a witness.
However, he told the press that he didn't do it for money. He said he just hated the idea of seeing a theater and a mosque close to each other.
"I didn't want us [Muslims] to feel attacked [by the presence of the theater], hence the banner. I only wanted to invite people to stop the theater construction. I didn't want money," he said.
He went on to call for a negotiation between Kramat Jati residents and the PGC management regarding the matter. He claimed that the PGC management once made an agreement with the residents. However, he failed to explain what the agreement was.
"I made the banner so that the PGC management and the residents would talk," he added.
Andy is now being detained in a Jakarta Police detainment center. He is charged under articles 156 and 55 of the Criminal Code on hate speech and Article 16 of Law No. 40/2008 on the elimination of racial and ethnic discrimination – which carry a maximum sentence of five years' imprisonment. (vla)