Recently, a kindergarten in Indonesia has been receiving quite a flak for clothing little girls in black, ISIS-style uniforms and gearing them with replica rifles for an Independence Day parade, while the organizers were forced to apologize for the distressing solecism.
Photos of the so-called “cultural parade” held in East Java, in the city of Probolinggo, on Saturday showed lines of young girls parading on the street wearing niqab-style black veils, carrying cardboard templates of rifles.
Expressing regret over the decision, the head of the TK Kartika kindergarten apologized “deeply” for the costumes and stated that they did not aim to “instill violence” in the kindergarten children.
Kindergarten head Hartatik, when asked to explain the controversial attire said, “We raised the theme of the struggle of the Prophet to increase faith and devotion to Allah.”
Saturday’s parade took place a day after Independence Day, which falls on 17 August, in the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation and the kindergarten is on the site of an Indonesian military complex.
Further explaining their action, Hartatik admitted they had pooled props from previous years to save money.
Hartatik told a leading newspaper, “We used it to save funds. We never thought about the impact. The important thing is to take part in the parade, that the children were happy, using the existing property.”
Further questioning upon why the school used jihadist-style costumes last year, the kindergarten head chose to remain silent.
Probolinggo military commander, Lieutenant Colonel Kav Depri Rio Saransi speaking at a media conference following uproar over the event, emphasized that the parade was solely to edify the students about the “struggle of Islam” and it did not by any means intended to promote religious extremism.
Before offering a further apology, he said, “There is not the slightest bit of radicalism. I emphasize that surely there is no such thing as an element of intentionally showing the existence of radical activities.”
Videos and images of the march past went viral on social media in the country and struck on the same day when Indonesia opened the 18th Asian Games in a magnificent ceremony in Jakarta, celebrating country’s rich cultural diversity.
As Indonesia works to show its best face to the world through the huge sporting event connecting 45 countries, one of the largest kinds after the Olympics, the Probolinggo parade proves as an embarrassing gaffe for Indonesia.
House speaker Bambang Soesatyo described the incident as an “inappropriate spectacle” as the news also reached the Indonesia parliament.
He said, “Ordering children to wear black veiled costumes and carry replica weapons gives a poor perception. Treatment like that could damage children’s ideas.”