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    » 09/26/2009, 00.00

    PAKISTAN

    All students in Pakistan’s schools required to study Islam



    The Commission for Justice and Peace of the Church of Pakistan criticizes the new guidelines for public education. Concern for the civics books that offer only the Islamic point of view.

    Islamabad (AsiaNews) - The new guidelines for school students in Pakistan requires non-Muslims to study Islam and ignore other religious traditions in the country.

    The National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) of the Church of Pakistan is critical of the National Education Policy 2009, launched September 9 by the government in Islamabad. Mgr. John Saldanha, Archbishop of Lahore and chairman of the NCJP, and Peter Jacob, secretary of the Commission are concerned about the often implicit discriminatory and coercive aspects of the new guidelines content.

    In a press release issued on 25 September, the two leaders of NCJP point the finger at Chapter 4 of the document, dedicated to Islamic Education. They claim that "If government thinks public education is not possible without a compulsory subject of Islamic Studies and Arabic, then we are forced to demand religious education for Hindu, Christian, Sikh, Parsi, etc. in their respective religions".

    The program drawn up by the Government contemplates that Islamiyat (Islamic studies) become compulsory until the 12th class (15 and 16 years). For students that from then on will not want to follow the lessons of Islam attendance of alternative courses of public ethics is permitted, but the Commission notes also on this front the discrimination, though latent, is clear.

    The NCJP states that for non-Muslim children who do not attend the Islamiyat class "there is a risk of isolation from the rest of the class”, but not only. The courses in civics and public ethics are based on texts that address issues from the Muslim perspective without considering the traditions of different faiths in the country. They also contain biases, errors and falsehoods about non-Muslim religions.

    The Commission urges the government to review the National Education Policy 2009 because its current form violates Articles 20 and 22 of the Constitution of Pakistan which guarantees free and equal citizenship to all citizens regardless of their faith. The NCJP has also appealed to the Supreme Court that they take action on the matter.

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    See also

    05/05/2008 PAKISTAN
    Church launches workshop in Lahore to train for peace
    The National Commission for Justice and Peace inaugurates a peace education programme that brings together Christians and Muslims to give dialogue a chance after years of violence clashes.

    05/06/2009 PAKISTAN
    Pakistani Catholic leaders come out against the Taliban and the imposition of the jizya
    Tax on non-Muslims is a threat that violates basic human rights. In tribal areas near the border with Afghanistan more than 700 non-Muslim families are persecuted and forced to pay. Federal Religious Minorities minister strongly condemns the tax, pledges help for the victims.

    05/06/2008 PAKISTAN
    Pakistani Church urges government to uphold the constitution against extremism
    In a press statement issued by the National Commission for Justice and Peace, Church leaders call on the government to amend the constitution to fight discrimination and religious intolerance. They also express support for the judges sacked by Musharraf.

    15/11/2007 PAKISTAN
    Countdown for democracy in Islamabad
    After five years pro-Musharraf National Assembly is dissolved at the stroke of midnight tonight. Elections are scheduled for January 9 but arrests and human rights violations continue throughout the country. Justice and Peace Commission calls for a return to constitutional rule and an independent judiciary.

    03/02/2006 PAKISTAN
    More violence against Catholics and their local church
    In Sialkot District, unknown assailants attack a 70-year-old woman breaking her legs, and seriously injured another, ostensibly over land. This is taking place "because the government has failed to take measures," says the archbishop of Lahore.



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