When I spoke with Ansyaad Mbai, Indonesia’s top counter terrorism official, he pointed to the country’s Islamic boarding schools as places where the future of Indonesia’s Islam could be decided. U.S. officials have called the schools, or pesantrens, breeding grounds for terrorism. Yet, while a few of the schools have been connected to radical Islam, most provide an important system of education for the country’s poor and rural communities.
I visited a number of pesantrens in West Java and spoke with students, teachers and religious leaders. Listen to the radio report, broadcast this week on WBAI’s Asia Pacific Forum (99.5 FM, New York City).http://www.dorianmerina.com/audio/APF_Dispatch4Cirebon.mp3%20
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