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Indonesian cleric suspect in porn case

A Indonesian Islamist leader who helped organize mass protests against Jakarta’s Christian governor has been named a suspect in a pornography case, police said Tuesday, as authorities seek to rein in hardliners.

Rizieq Shihab, leader of notorious radical group the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), was Monday named a suspect for allegedly exchanging pornographic messages with a woman.

Shihab, who is also being investigated by police over a separate defamation case, is currently out of the country after travelling to Saudi Arabia on pilgrimage and has failed to return despite repeated summons from the police for questioning.

Analysts said it was the latest evidence the government of President Joko Widodo was seeking to clamp down on radicals in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country as fears mount they are growing increasingly influential.

Shihab was a key figure in organizing a series of mass rallies last year against Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, an ally of Widodo, over allegations he insulted the Koran while campaigning for re-election.

The controversy led to Purnama’s downfall – he lost the election and was jailed for blasphemy for two years this month over the claims – and stoked concerns about rising religious intolerance in a country traditionally regarded as a bastion of tolerant Islam. (AFP)

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