A kindergarten in Indonesia has sparked uproar after it reportedly dressed up preschoolers in ISIS costumes and gave them dummy rifles on a parade for Indonesia’s Independence Day, forcing the organizers to apologize.
The parade held in the city of Probolinggo on Saturday, included little preschool girls marching on the street and wearing black from top to bottom with niqabs, while carrying dummy riffles made out of cardboard.
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
The head of the TK Kartika kindergarten in Probolinggo apologized “deeply” for the costumes, adding that they were not trying to “instil violence” in the children.
The parade was held on Saturday, a day after Independence Day, which was on August 17.
Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world.
Hartatik said that the costumes were props from previous years, and that they used them to save money because what’s important is “to take part in the parade and that the children were happy,” he told BBC Indonesia.
He did not clarify why the extremist-style costumes had been used in previous years.
Probolinggo military commander, Lieutenant Colonel Kav Depri Rio Saransi said the parade was to educate the students about the “struggle of Islam” but was not intended to promote religious radicalism, while speaking at a media conference following anger over the event.
“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,” he said.
News of the Probolinggo parade has also reached the Indonesian parliament, with House speaker Bambang Soesatyo describing it as an “inappropriate spectacle.”
He said: “Treatment like that could damage children’s ideas."