Jakarta – Defense Minister (Menhan) Ryamizard Ryacudu still reminisces about his friendship with the supreme leader of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) Rizieq Shihab.
This was conveyed by Ryacudu during a goodwill gathering with the United Children of the Nation Forum (FRAB) at the Ministry of Defense offices in Jakarta on Tuesday July 9.
Ryacudu said that Shihab often maintained communication with him and had visited his home in the Cijantung area of East Jakarta on several occasions.
"Habib [honorific term for Islamic clerics from the Sayyid community] Rizieq is my friend. He once came to my house", said Ryacudu.
One of the moments that Ryacudu remembers best was when Shihab contacted him not long ago during a protest action titled the Alumni 212 Reunion in Jakarta in December last year.
The former army chief of staff said that Shihab contacted him and invited him to attend the event. Ryacudu claimed that he declined Shihab's invitation because he didn't feel comfortable about it.
"So, at a time when many people were coming together, when there were several million people, Habib once telephoned me, 'Bang [brother] just go there'. Then I said, 'Yeah perhaps another time, I'm not comfortable about it. How could I go all by myself'", said Ryacudu quoting from the conversation with Shihab.
Ryacudu also acknowledged that Shihab has forged friendships with losing presidential hopeful Prabowo Subianto and former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
Prabowo, Yudhoyono and Ryacudu all originate from the military and the three graduated from the military academy not far apart. Ryacudu and Prabowo graduated in 1974 and Yudhoyono in 1973.
Ryacudu said that to this day he, Prabowo and Yudhoyono are still friends even though they have different political views.
"There are many friends in 02 [the now defunct presidential election ticket of Prabowo Subianto and running mate Sandiaga Uno]. It doesn't matter, that's what you call democracy. We don't bear any grudges. I'm with Jokowi [President Joko Widodo's camp], how could I be a minister there [with 02], that would be called a betrayal", said Ryacudu.
Ryacudu said that there is a wisdom that can be taken from his friendship with Shihab. He emphasised the importance of goodwill gatherings between all elements of Indonesian society.
According to Ryacudu, it is not good if people continue to hold animosities and grudges between each other.
"I want us to be like that, I say to my friends, don't hold onto animosities with your friends, lest you die holding a grudge. Throw away your grudges", said Ryacudu told the audience.
The FRAB itself was established by several social organisations. The goodwill event was attended by a number of figures such as Betawi Brotherhood Forum (FBR) Chairperson Luthfi Hakim, Habib Umar Al Hamid and Aminudin from the 212 Presidium Alumni (PA 212) and Yudhoyono's Democrat Party Advocacy and Legal Aid Division Head Ferdinand Hutahaean. (rzr/wis)
Fugitive FPI leader Rizieq Shihab has been hiding in Saudi Arabia for more than a year. Although police have dropped the charges related to an infamous pornography case that first led him to flee the country, he has numerous legal cases pending against him including charges of blasphemy against Christianity and state symbols. The Prabowo camp has recently suggested that a political "reconciliation" with Widodo is contingent on Shihab's return to Indonesia.
The "212" movement was born out of the 2016-17 demonstrations against former Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama and formalised in the 212 Alumni Brotherhood (PA 212) and the National Movement to Safeguard the Fatwa (GNPF), both of which backed Prabowo's failed 2019 presidential bid. In December 2018, PA 212 held the second reunion of the 212 rally, which was attended by Prabowo and key leaders of his coalition parties.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Berteman dengan Rizieq, Ryamizard Kenang Ajakan Ikut Aksi 212".]