15 June 2006

Yes, children, go to school

Schools are good for you. Even if you do not become a scientist, the school will somehow or other develop your social skills, lead you to some sports, give you an initial understanding that boys are not to be looked upon with disdain or that girls are not just animated dolls that cry when pulled by their hair. You have a good chance to become a useful member of the society upon graduating, and in short - the whole world is yours.

But there are schools and then there are schools. Here is one specific school briefly described in an IHT article about the safe return of the "bomber sheikh" - Islamic cleric Abu Bakar Bashir to his hometown of Solo. To remind you who Bashir is:

An Indonesian court acquitted Bashir in March 2005 of seven terrorism charges involving the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings that killed 202 people, including 88 Australians, and the Marriott Hotel bombing in Jakarta in 2003. He was convicted of a conspiracy involving those bombings.

And here comes into the picture the school where Bashir is something of a spiritual father.

Students at the Islamic boarding school, Al Mukmin, where Bashir is revered as a spiritual leader, guarded streets along the approach to the school's front gates in preparation for their teacher's arrival, many of them dressed in army fatigues.

"He is the most Islamic man I know," said Abdul, 17, who has been attending Al Mukmin now for five years. "I am very happy about his being released. He is one of our founding fathers."

Several members of the Islamic organization Jemaah Islamiyah, and a number of people convicted here for their involvement in terrorist bombings, are graduates of Al Mukmin. The school now enrolls about 1,600 students, most of them male, from all over Indonesia.

Some school, indeed...

And I would bet that the social skills acquired by Abdul, who considers Bashir to be the most Islamic man he knows, will include ability to express his love to humanity in crowded places. With a lot of conviction and explosive force...

Cross-posted on Yourish.com