SEI MENCIRIM, Indonesia – A former Islamic militant in Indonesia who says he regrets his past has opened up a school for the children of extremists with the hope of steering them away from the paths of their fathers.
Al Hidayah Islamic boarding school has 20 pupils. Nearly half of their fathers were killed in police raids, and in some cases the children witnessed the deaths. Most of the other fathers are in prison for terrorism offenses.
The children of militants are often traumatized by radicalism and shunned by society. School founder Khairul Ghazali estimates there are about 2,000 sons and daughters of killed or imprisoned militants in the country.
Indonesian authorities support Ghazali’s mission and have helped sway villagers who were initially wary of the school’s founder and its students.