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Muslim cleric prevented from delivering sermons over his 'radical views'

Jakarta Globe - February 23, 2024

Muhammad Fakhruddin & Heru Andriyanto, Surabaya – Chaos erupted at Assalam Purimas Mosque in the East Java capital on Thursday evening during a religious event, as a group of individuals disrupted the gathering, preventing the renowned cleric Syafiq Riza Basalamah from delivering sermons due to his alleged "radical and divisive views."

The arrival of Muslim preacher Syafiq Riza Basalamah drew protests from GP Ansor and Banser, the youth wings of Indonesia's largest Muslim organization Nahdlatul Ulama. A brawl ensued between GP Ansor and Banser members and the followers of Syafiq before he could commence his sermons.

Asyiqun Nahdli, a GP Ansor member, clarified that the group was not against the religious gathering itself but against a cleric with a history of promoting radical views being allowed to speak at the event.

"We have voiced opposition since the beginning and everyone agreed in a signed document that [the cleric] will not come here. The signing of the agreement was witnessed by the police and district leaders. But they don't keep their promise," Asyiqun said.

The incident sparked intense discussions on various social media platforms. Afif Fuad, another GP Ansor member, pointed out on his X account that in previous sermons, Syafiq had discouraged his followers from befriending people of different faiths. Additionally, Fuad claimed that the cleric prohibited his followers from saluting the national flag and singing the national anthem.

Contradictorily, videos on Syafiq's YouTube account showed him delivering sermons next to a small Indonesian flag on his desk.

In one video, the 46-year-old cleric refrained from making statements about the recent presidential election, asserting that "democracy is invented by humans to create hostilities and hatred." However, Syafiq participated in the Feb. 14 election and posted a video showing him casting his ballot at a polling station in Jember, East Java.

Following the Surabaya incident, Syafiq took to Instagram, saying, "May Allah give guidance to our friends who may not possess the understanding and goodwill." He apologized to his followers for canceling the sermon due to the chaotic situation and assured them of future meetings.

"My apologies for the inconvenience caused," he wrote.

Source: https://jakartaglobe.id/news/muslim-cleric-prevented-from-delivering-sermons-over-his-radical-view