The Al-Zaytun Islamic school has fallen under suspicion of links to Negara Islam Indonesia (NII).
Al Zaytun, or Pondok Pesantren Modern Al'Zaytun, formally opened by President B.J. Habibie in 1999, and occupying some 1,200 hectares in Mekarja, Gantar (Haurgeulis), Indramayu, West Java, and led by one Syekh Panji Gumilang was visited by vice-president Muhammad Jusuf Kalla, Minister of Religion Maftuh Basyuni, and Deputy Governor of West Java, Nu'man A. Hakim, on the 20th to celebrate Islamic New Year. It is home to over 10,000 students, including some from Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa, and Brunei.
After Kalla & co's visit journalists questioned Syekh Panji Gumilang over accusations that he was the 9th Area Commander of the Negara Islam Indonesia (NII), otherwise known as Darul Islam (DI), a movement which in the past has violently fought, particularly in West Java, for the establishment of an Islamic state. Gumilang said:
That's not true. Al Zaytun is a centre for the development of a tolerant and peaceful culture [quoting the school's motto].
Journalists said they had information from sources in Jakarta that NII was still actively recruiting among students and still had a formal structure, of which Syekh Panji Gumilang was an important part. The sheikh said people could say what they liked in a democratic system and reiterated that Al Zaytun was merely an educational institution.
Syaykh Abdussalam Panji Gumilang.
Gumilang also said that in politics Al Zaytun did not side with any particular candidate or party. In the 2004 election the majority of votes from the school went to the pair of General Wiranto and Solahuddin Wahid, according to Electoral Commission figures. kompas
Previously Kalla had given a speech in which he urged for the modernisation of Islamic schools and he praised Al Zaytun as an example of a religious education school that had left behind the image of Islamic schools as cramped, dirty, and simple places. tempo