Kate Lamb – A legal attempt by the Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir to overturn a decision that saw it outlawed in the world's largest Muslim-majority country has been rejected by an Indonesian court.
Reading the verdict at Jakarta state administrative court, the head judge, Tri Cahya Indra Permana, said the lawsuit was "rejected in full".
Hizb ut-Tahrir was banned in Indonesia on the basis of a 2017 presidential decree that gives the government powers to disband groups deemed a threat to national unity.
The ruling on Monday upheld that decision, with the judicial panel stating that the government had acted according to procedure and Hizb ut-Tahrir runs counter to Indonesia's state ideology.
The Islamic group, a global organisation that had an estimated 10,000 members in Indonesia before it was dissolved, supports the establishment of a global caliphate.
Under heavy guard from police and military personnel, hundreds of hardline supporters dressed in white skullcaps gathered outside the courtroom, where they conducted a mass prayer before the verdict was announced.
Ismail Yusanto, a former Hizb ut-Tahrir Indonesia spokesman, said it would appeal.
"If we accept, that means accepting injustice, that we allow injustice and we accept that preaching our ideals is wrong. Are you willing to let the teachings of Islam be blamed?" Yusanto was quoted as saying by CNN Indonesia.
The ruling is a clear political victory for the administration of Joko Widodo, but there are doubts that it will help curb radicalism.
Todd Elliott, a political analyst at Concord Consulting, said: "There is no guarantee that former members of HTI [Hizb ut-Tahrir Indonesia] are simply going to give up their extremist beliefs now that their former group is outlawed. There is a plethora of other hardline Islamist groups."
Hizb ut-Tahrir was one of several Islamic groups involved in mass rallies that led to the downfall and imprisonment of the former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, better known as Ahok, on charges of blasphemy last year.
Elliott said the group, which has been banned in several other countries, was an easier target than some Indonesian organisations that have a demonstrated pattern of violence.
The decision to ban Hizb ut-Tahrir, he said, could backfire. "HTI was unique in that it strictly adhered to a policy of non-violence, so now there is a risk of these 10,000 former members saying, 'OK, well we were a legal mass organisation, we played by the rules and that didn't work.' So some of them could gravitate towards violence," Elliott said.