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US religious freedom commission: Pakistan’s schools promote intolerance

Catholic World News - November 10, 2011

The US Commission on International Commission Religious Freedom has found that “in Pakistan, schools often serve as incubators of societal intolerance, especially toward religious minorities, with profoundly negative implications for religious freedom and security.”

“In Pakistan’s public schools, all children, regardless of their faith, are forced to learn from textbooks that often had a strong Islamic orientation and frequently omitted mention of Pakistan’s religious minorities or made derogatory references to them,” said Leonard Leo and Elizabeth Prodromou, the commission’s chairman and vice chairman. “While non-Muslims are technically allowed to study alternative subjects, this has not been implemented in practice … Teachers typically expressed negative views about Ahmadis, Christians, and Jews, and passed them along to their pupils.”

Father James Channan, a Dominican based in Lahore, called the report’s findings “completely correct.”

“In recent years the country has gradually Talibanized, with a loss for minorities and for democracy itself,’ he said. “In the textbooks used in public schools intolerance is openly promoted, it is said that Islam is a superior religion and speaks negatively of other faiths. We are very concerned about this approach: these ideas, propagated from primary schools to universities in the so-called ‘Islamic Studies’ but also social sciences disorient and manipulate the minds of young people.”

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