The notorious Al-Mukmin Muslim boarding school, or pesantren, held over the weekend a seminar designed to improve its image and educate the ignorant on the true meaning of jihad. The school, founded by terror suspect Abu Bakar Ba'asyir has the dubious honour of being the alma mater of a string of convicted terrorists and wanted men.
Among the school's more well-known graduates are the currently on death row mass murderer, Amrozi, his two brothers, most of the others involved in the first Bali bombing, and Faturrahman Al-Ghozi, who was killed in action on Mindanao, Philippines. Additionally the school boasts of being the educators of three men currently on the run for terror activities, Zulkarnain, Aris Munandar, and Abdurrahim Thayib. Wherever there has been maiming and killing in the name of the religion of peace in Indonesia recently the froth and scum products of the Ngruki pesantren have been in the thick of it.
However the director of the school, pictured here, Wahyuddin, as well as the head of the alumni association, Ali Usman, said that the school could not be held responsible for the misdeeds of a small number of its former students.
Ngruki has thousands of alumni. If some of them have taken part in criminal activity, we apologize.
Both men were cautious to avoid referring to the "criminal activity" as acts of terrorism.
The seminar was held in conjunction with the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), a hardline group of clerics prone to issuing medieval-heritage fatwas at any opportunity, and the ludicrous Religious Affairs Ministry, which since the rise of democratic politics after the fall of Suharto has been the dominion of small Islamic parties who need to be bought off for coalition building purposes.
The MUI deputy chairman said:
Let there be no stigma given to any institution, including pesantren. If there are one or two people found guilty, they should be dealt with according to the law, not their institution.
He also said that his group had thoroughly investigated the school's curriculum, research papers and other "literature" as well as observed its daily activities and had come to the conclusion that it was all hunky-dory.
As an old communist might say, it is no accident that so many of the terrorists active in Indonesia come from this one establishment. Not many people, however indoctrinated they may be, are, in the end, willing to blow themselves up or blow other people up but the fact that, of those in Indonesia who do fall into this category, so many of them come from the Ngruki school should be the cause of ringing condemnation of it, and perhaps a little more than this, direct action against it.
One of the more interesting participants in the seminar was the spokesman for the Indonesian Mujahidin Council, another creation of the industrious Abu Bakar Ba'asyir, Fauzan Al-Anshori. He explained that jihad cannot justify attacks on civilians of whatever religion. He also, interestingly, seemed to take the traditional Indonesian "nationalist" position in its Islamic world-view. America, he said, was not at war with Indonesia and therefore attacks on American interests or citizens in Indonesia were unjustifiable. In this he seems to be repudiating the sense of the Muslim community, or ummah, as a global, supra-national, force, an attack on one part of which, like Iraq, is considered an attack on the whole, including Indonesia.
He went on to say that America had attacked Indonesia only in the cultural, economic, and political spheres, and therefore retailation had to be also in those areas, but not by violent means.
The organisers of the seminar had invited the representatives of about 20 foreign embassies. Malaysia had signaled its acceptance but even they didn't show up. About 1000 other people attended.