World's Biggest Muslim Country Scrambles After School Dresses Kids as Terrorists
In a scene straight out of a dystopian parody, the country of Indonesia came under heavy scrutiny and fire when a video depicting young children in Islamic State group costumes and carrying fake rifles went viral.
The parade was held in the city of Probolinggo on Saturday.
The parade was celebrating Indonesia’s Independence Day, according to Alarabiya.
Also something to keep in mind, Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world. According to the Pew Research Center, Indonesia accounted for over 13 percent of the entire Muslim population in 2010.
On Independence Day yesterday, a video of a schoolboy climbing a flagpole in west Timor went viral on Indonesian social media. Today another video went viral: kindergarteners in black niqab carrying guns joined Independence Day carnival in Probolinggo, East Java #17an #RI73 pic.twitter.com/yN9tdyZwz5
— Yenni Kwok (@yennikwok) August 18, 2018
Having children clad head-to-toe in Islamic State group gear with fake weaponry is a bad look for quite a few people in the country.
It was bad enough that the parade’s organizers had to issue a quick apology.
TK Kartika kindergarten in Probolinggo apologized “deeply” for the costumes. They also claimed they were not trying to “instill violence” in the children.
Making matters even more stomach-churning was the fact that some of the young actors in question were little girls wearing niqab-style black veils and carrying cardboard cutouts of guns.
“We raised the theme of the struggle of the Prophet to increase faith and devotion to Allah,” kindergarten head Hartatik told BBC Indonesia according to the South China Morning Post.
More confusing than anything else was the excuse Hartatik provided.
“We used (the costumes and cardboard guns) to save funds,” Hartatik said, claiming that costumes from previous years were re-used to cut costs. “(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.”
Hartatik did not specify what the costumes had been used for in previous years.
Probolinggo military commander Lt. Col. Kav Depri Rio Saransi claimed during a media session that the costumes and parade were to educate students about the “struggle of Islam” and denied any intent to radicalize.
“There is not the slightest bit of radicalism. I emphasise that purely there is no such thing as an element of intentionally showing the existence of radical activities,” he said.
Indonesian House speaker Bambang Soesatyo called the entire ordeal an “inappropriate spectacle.”
“Ordering children to wear black veiled costumes and carry replica weapons gives a poor perception,” Soesatyo said. “Treatment like that could damage children’s ideas.”
While the hand wringing and apologies from the Indonesian community are commendable, the excuses are beyond flimsy. It seems like there could be countless other alternatives to recycling Islamic State group costumes on a public forum.
At the end of the day, violence isn’t exclusively inherent to Islam, and there are plenty of peaceful Muslims. But the proclivity for violence certainly exists among radicalized Islamists, and this latest display does not help that narrative.
It’s hard to watch the news and not see the latest atrocity committed by al-Qaida, the Islamic State group or Boko Haram. Massive gaffes like this will not help Muslims break from the bloody narrative being set by extremist groups.
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