Former Indonesian Military (TNI) Commander Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo recited the moment he was introduced to the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) leader, Muhammad Rizieq Shihab.
According to Gatot, the rise of any religious conservatism in Indonesia is not an issue to worry about since he is absolutely assured that Rizieq Shihab is a person that understands the state ideology, Pancasila
“You can meet Habib Rizieq and talk about Pancasila. If necessary, try facing him with the Pancasila ideology development agency. His understanding [of Pancasila] is really that good,” said Gatot during his visit to Tempo office on Tuesday, March 27.
That is the reason why the former general doubts that Rizieq yearns for a nation that is based on the Islamic sharia. Gatot asserted that the belief in one and only God contained in Pancasila has been fully understood by Muslim clerics (ulama) and students of the Pancasila’s founding fathers.
Gatot Nurmantyo is widely known to be a TNI Commander that maintained close ties with ulamas. His closeness was not without any reason since it was meant to reduce the potential to spark a horizontal conflict based on ethnicity, religion, racial and societal groups (SARA).
He first met Rizieq Shihab during a humanitarian effort following the devastating Aceh earthquake and tsunami in 2004. At the time he was a staff member for the then Coordinating Minister for Peoples’ Welfare Alwi Shihab.
Gatot Nurmantyo said that he witnessed Rizieq Shihab personally participating in the efforts to retrieve dead victims of the tsunami. “Rizieq Shihab did not demand anything, just several body bags. That was what I saw,” he said.