FILE - Hardline Islamic cleric Rizieq Shihab, center, speaks to his followers in Jakarta, Indonesia, Nov. 10, 2020.
FILE - Hardline Islamic cleric Rizieq Shihab, center, speaks to a group of his followers in Jakarta, Indonesia, Nov. 10, 2020.

Indonesian prosecutors accused hardline Islamic cleric Rizieq Shihab of incitement and widespread coronavirus restriction violations in his first virtual court appearance on Friday.

Shihab’s legal team says the charge is politically motivated, with the cleric saying in court that he was being "forced and denigrated" and that it was his right to appear in a regular courtroom. He previously refused to take part in online court proceedings.

Prosecutors in the case outlined how Shihab’s return from exile in Saudi Arabia in November was celebrated with a massive rally and how his hosting his daughter’s wedding breached large-scale social restrictions.

Both events collectively drew more than 10,000 people, with 33 guests at the wedding testing positive, as well as Shihab.

Shihab left Indonesia in 2017 to complete a pilgrimage to Mecca shortly after being charged in a pornography case and for insulting the official state ideology. The charges were subsequently dropped.