A kindergarten in Indonesia is taking flak around the world after disturbing images of young children dressed up as ISIS fighters went viral. The head of TK Kartika kindergarten was forced to apologize after its youngest female students were given black niqabs and made to carry machine gun cardboard cutouts as part of an independence day parade in the city of Probolinggo.
School officials claim their intentions were pure. "We raised the theme of the struggle of the Prophet to increase faith and devotion to Allah," explained the school principal, who insisted the last thing his kindergarten was trying to do with such controversial attire was to "instill violence" in its students.
When pressed, the excuse became about money. "We used it to save funds," the principal told BBC Indonesia. "[We] never thought about the impact. The important thing is to take part in the parade, that the children were happy, using the existing property."
Word Travels Fast
Whatever the intent, images and videos of the gun-toting children spread across social media just a day after the world's largest Muslim-majority nation celebrated its independence day on August 17.
Amidst the national uproar, Probolinggo military commander Lieutenant Colonel Kav Depri Rio Saransi was forced to defend the parade. He maintained it was meant only to educate the students about the "struggle of Islam." In his mind, "there is not the slightest bit of radicalism. I emphasize that purely there is no such thing as an element of intentionally showing the existence of radical activities."
Celebrating Radical Islam?
House speaker of the Indonesian parliament, Bambang Soesatyo, was not buying the rationale. He called the parade an "inappropriate spectacle. Ordering children to wear black veiled costumes and carry replica weapons gives a poor perception. Treatment like that could damage children's ideas."
There is good reason for Indonesians to be angry about these images being broadcast to the world. Although the country has largely steered clear of the rash of Islamic extremism that has torn through many Middle-Eastern and North African nations, ISIS did manage to infiltrate local Islamist groups within Indonesia in recent years. They've recruited men, women, and children to participate in suicide attacks across the country - often to devastating effect.
In May of this year alone, at least 49 Indonesians died in terrorist bombings tied to radical Islamist groups supporting ISIS. During one particularly alarming incident, six members of the same family simultaneously set off suicide bombs at three churches in Surabaya, East Java. Twelve congregants died in the bombings.
What Were They Thinking?
In light of these horrific events, the parade gaffe seems that much worse. One can imagine why the public reacted so harshly this was more than just costumes gone awry, it was blatantly offensive and irresponsible.
That the kindergarten made a bad decision and tried to save a little money with recycled costumes is one thing. But that they thought to equip kids with cardboard cut-out guns is quite another. If you're not in the business of inciting extremism or paying homage to violent religious thugs, then perhaps best to leave the props at home.
1 reaper drone fired hellfire missile coming up!
Probably innocent, but deserving of at minimum, a cursory investigation. Handled politely of course.
Once again IZ-slum offer the 'beauty of violence" to one and all for always. Ever since 632 AD, meKKKah has done nothing but praise the killing of people. As a person who grew-up, from my childhood bedroom window, watching the Trade Center get built; as well as, on my way driving to a conference on the NJ Turnpike, saw them destroyed - I have less than any respect for that fayth of death and destruction. AMEN
They should have known better. Small children should not be subjected to such behavior. Then again, we were playing with toy guns when we were kids, playing cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians, and Star Trek with our toy phasers, but most of us turned out alright. Nevertheless, it doesn't seem right to force that upon small children, or anyone else. The reasoning behind it was wrong. They don't need people in costume acting like the kind of people who they fear. And in a parade ? Aren't parades supposed to be enjoyable, fun-filled events? All of the adults who participated in that should have their employments terminated, and not be allowed to work with children again.
Very typical, actually. Islamists are not ashamed to indoctrinate their children, as are other religions. Many of them feel that they are raising warriors. We send ours to dance and art classes. A few play some sport. They teach theirs to kill. And some people here defend them.
Well folks, that's Islam for you.
Islam and the Koran is not repeat not a peace based faith. no matter how anyone wants to say it. just read the Koran it is replete of hate and murder of anyone who does not believe as a Muslims do.. the founder of the Islamic book was what many describe as a pedophile and murderer and so many other disgusting things. I do not understand why the Islamic or Muslims do not see that. it is plain as the nose on their face. The words are not hidden or spun to mean anything but what it says and that is why these Muslims and now even more radical Islamic take the words of the Koran and fan the flames of hate and murder even against each other and own family members. It is beyond words to state the human disaster this has caused over the many centuries. The only thing I can think of this Koran and the believers enjoy the power it gives them over one another and women and children and weaker people in their own communities. So sad that woman and men who know better and have been victims, can not find a way to stop this inhumane power to cause pain suffering and death to the innocent children and women who are really the backbone of the Muslim civilization. I recently revisited some photographs taken of Iranian society during the 1970's under the Shaw of Iran, Those photos showed the society and people of Iran gaining a strong presence in the modern world . When the Shaw was killed and the revolution took place , the country was again under oppression and woman had to wear full body cover . no more access to education, so many other things that both women men and children enjoyed before. The people of Iran have tried to protest the oppressors only to be arrested and murdered. Why? the aforementioned use of the Koran and Islam to gain power over the people at ever level. Therefore the Koran and Islamic So called religion is not " a faith", it is a way to gain power over people by evil bad men. Not only did this stop the forward progress of Iran, but other countries in the middle east. For those interested go look at Afghanistan during the 1950-1960-70's.
Really surprised all the Islamic-apologists on ULC didn't jump in here to defend this and tell us how little we know about Islam.