Jakarta – An associate dean at state-run Padjadjaran University in Bandung, West Java, was demoted on Monday after the management learned that he has links with now-defunct Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia, an organization that seeks to establish Islamic law and caliphate.
The decision was taken only two days after Asep Agus Handaka Suryana was appointed as associate dean of the university's Fisheries and Marine Sciences Faculty.
A university spokesman said the management received information about Asep's alleged links to the HTI after the Saturday's appointment and promptly reversed it.
"Padjadjaran University has decided to appoint a replacement upon information we received after his January 2 appointment that he used to be an executive of an organization now banned by the government," university spokesman Dandi Supriadi said in a statement.
Dandi claimed that Asep could "fully understand" and accept the decision. Reports said Asep once was HTI's Bandung branch leader.
The decision, however, triggered further controversies because Asep will continue teaching in the university.
Dandi confirmed that the university has retained Asep as a lecturer because "he has never committed any offense", citing also his dedication and service to the university.
The Indonesian government banned the HTI in July 2017 on the grounds that the organization's principles are against the constitution and state ideology Pancasila, which promotes inter-religion tolerance.
The government said at that time the HTI is the local chapter of Hizbut Tahrir, a global organization seeking to establish an international caliphate.
Numerous researches have indicated that the HTI tightened its grip by spreading influence through universities and state agencies.
In 2018, a law professor at Semarang-based Diponegoro University was banned from teaching for his supportive views of the group.
Professor Suteki, who also taught at the National Police Academy in Semarang, received the sanction after he testified for the HTI who went to the court to seek reversal of the disbandment.
Indonesia has the world's biggest Muslim population but the majority of Indonesian Muslims are widely perceived as moderate. The country's constitution is not based on the Islamic law.
The government recently banned another hardline group, the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), following feud with the group's leader, Rizieq Syihab, who violated health protocols as he organized public gatherings and held wedding party for a daughter upon arrival from a three-year stay in Saudi Arabia in November.
The government provided the same reasoning it used against the HTI when it officially disbanded the FPI last month, in addition to alleged links to terrorists.