The Indonesian mission in Saudi Arabia is hopeful detained Indonesian pilgrims will be free “very soon.” The mission is trying to persuade Saudi authorities of their nationals’ innocence.
Eleven Indonesian pilgrims, who arrived in the holy city of Makkah to perform Umrah, were detained on religious charges of practicing “syirik” (associating partners with God) and performing Eid Al-Fitr prayers on July 18, a day after the beginning of Eid Al-Fitr here on July 17, Syarif Shahab, information secretary at the Indonesian Consulate in Jeddah, told Arab News on Monday.
“The consulate is working closely with the Saudi authorities for the release of Indonesia’s nationals and we are now hopeful that they will be released very soon,” Shahab said.
He revealed that they were detained for practicing religious activities and rituals which are not correct.
According to reports, one of the detained Indonesians, Zubir Amir Abdullah, who is the founder of religious group Himpunan Pemuda Sinar Syahid (Himpass), to which all the detained Indonesians belong, claimed himself to be “Imam Mahdi” or the savior of the world.
However, Zubir later insisted he never claimed to be the “Mahdi,” rather it was the group’s followers who had labeled him as such.
The Indonesian Foreign Ministry’s director for legal aid and the protection of Indonesian nationals overseas Lalu Muhammad Iqbal told reporters in Jakarta on Monday that the government made a breakthrough to free their nationals, who have been in detention for 16 days on charges of practicing “shirk.”
“The case is clear as Zubir has insisted he never claimed to be the ‘Mahdi’,” said Iqbal.
“The use of the word was just a matter of word choice and did not refer to the ‘Mahdi’ mentioned in the Hadith,” he went on.
Iqbal further pointed out that recent statements obtained from the detainees would be used as the basis for the Indonesian government to urge Saudi authorities to release them.
He, however, said, “we are hopeful that we can immediately obtain the release of the 10 Indonesian pilgrims, but not Zubir.”
Zubir, 47, is undergoing psychiatric examination to ascertain the truth.