Police in Bogor, Indonesia, said Tuesday they would not issue a permit for a two-day Muslim gathering billed for this weekend as a discussion on ushering an Islamic caliphate into the country, saying such a meeting was illegal.
A little-known group that calls itself Khilafatul Muslimin and says its leader is a caliph who oversees chapters across Indonesia and other countries is organizing the meeting. It is planned for Saturday and Sunday at the Az-Zikra mosque in Sentul, a suburb of Jakarta near the city of Bogor.
A Singapore think tank has described the group as a supporter of the extremist group Islamic State (IS), and two mosques in Jakarta have turned down requests to host the meeting whose theme is “Indonesia: Ushering in the rise of Islam.”
The gathering would not be allowed, Bogor police chief Andi Muhammad Dicky told BenarNews.
“The event has to do with the intention to change the system of government, from democracy and Pancasila to the caliphate,” Dicky said. Pancasila is the Indonesian state philosophy, which rests on pillars that include national unity, the belief in one God, democracy and social justice.
He said police feared potential clashes between participants and people opposed to the event.
“We will disband the event if the organizers go ahead with it,” Andi warned.
In response, Khilafatul Muslimin spokesman Jamaludin, who uses one name, said similar events had been held 10 times before without any issue in different places, such as Bandung, Klaten and Sidoarjo.
Asked if the meeting would be held without a police permit, he said: “We still don’t know.”
“This is the consequences of a struggle,” he told BenarNews.
“It’s about devotion. We are not afraid,” he said when asked if group members worried that they would be accused of treason.
Jamaludin said his group was not Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI), a local branch of an international Islamic group campaigning to establish a caliphate.
The government outlawed HTI last year after President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo issued a decree banning organizations that were deemed as a threat to national unity and Pancasila.
‘Not just a dream’
In a statement posted online, Khilafatul Muslimin said the gathering was intended to address “accusations and slander by the enemies of Islam” about the caliphate. It invited representatives from the military, police, government and Muslim groups.
“For people who believe, the rise of Islam is not just a dream and an imagination, but has become a conviction,” the statement from Khilafatul Muslimin said. “This conviction has crystallized into a determination to immediately prepare in welcoming it. The Prophet also narrated that at the end of time there will be a caliphate based on the prophetic tradition.”
Khilafatul Muslimin appointed Abdul Qadir Hasan Baraja as caliph, or leader, and has 21 branches across the country and in several neighboring countries.
“Talking about the rise of Islam, means talking about the Islamic caliphate, because there is no other interpretation for the rise of Islam except the rise of the Islamic caliphate,” its statement added.
In May 2015, the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore described the group as one of 18 in Indonesia supporting IS, in a report on counterterrorist trends and analysis.
Since 2014, Indonesian officials have dealt with the threat of terrorism from home-grown militants inspired by IS.
As many as 700 of an estimated 800 people from Southeast Asia who fought for IS in Syria and Iraq were Indonesian, Indonesian Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu said recently.