There are more than 29,000 Islamic boarding schools in Indonesia. (Antara Photo/Syaiful Arif)

Islamic Boarding School in Bogor Faces Closure, Accused of Being Hotbed for Terrorist Activities

BY :DAMES ALEXANDER SINAGA

SEPTEMBER 15, 2017

Jakarta. Ibnu Mas'ud pesantren, or Islamic boarding school, near Bogor in West Java is facing closure as residents plan a protest on Sunday (17/09) to shut down the premise after rumors went around that the establishment has been used as a nest for terrorist activities.

The school is also accused of being anti-government, or even anti-Indonesia, since boarders had burnt red and white decorative flags hung by local residents around the pesantren a day before Independence Day on Aug. 17.

Hundreds of children in the boarding school, mostly six-year-olds from poor families around the area, may soon lose the only place where they can study.

Agus Purwoko, chairman of the Al Urwatul Usro Foundation, which opened the boarding school in 2011, said he did not witness the flag-burning incident and insisted he wanted to keep the pesantren open.

"My pesantren is small. We're a group of marginalized people, why the protest? If they suspect terrorism, talk to me. We're never involved in terrorism, why are they blaming us?" Agus said.

Agus said the children will be traumatized if their school is closed down.

"The police have told me, residents from four subdistricts are coming here on Sunday to shut us down," Agus said in Jakarta on Thursday.

He said the boarding school has already received threats and intimidation from residents.

Usman Hamid, the director of Amnesty International Indonesia, said the flag-burning incident is being used as an excuse by certain groups to close down the boarding school.

"They want to blame the whole pesantren for the action of one person," Usman said.

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