22 March 2018

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07/10/2010 PAKISTAN

Christian students in Pakistan are victims of violence and discrimination

Minorities Concern of Pakistan denounces a climate of intolerance and exclusion in the classroom. Most of the violations are committed in government institutions, due to a "fragile" system that associates Pakistan to a "Muslims-only country”. An association of teachers demands action from the Chief Justice against the Federal Ministry of Education.

Lahore (AsiaNews) - Students of Pakistan's religious minorities, including Christians, are victims of exclusion, discrimination and acts of violence because of their faith and their status. The complaint comes from Minorities Concern of Pakistan (MCP) which says that most of the violations take place in government run institutions and is committed by both classmates by teachers. The system to protect minorities, they add, is "fragile" and fails to safeguard their rights.

On 8 July the Pakistan Minorities Teachers' Association (Pmta) sent a letter to Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, head of the judiciary, inviting him to take a "personal initiative" against the Federal Minister for Education. He is accused of having "violated the rights of students from minorities, including Christians, Hindus, Sikhs and Ahmadis.

MCP activists cite two cases of discrimination against Christian students, confirming the climate of intolerance. On 28 May a dozen armed men attacked the pastor Mubarak Masih and his family. The violence against the Christian leader was sparked by his 13 year old grandson Shaid grandson to recite verses from the Koran in the classroom. The incident occurred in a school in Smundri, Punjab. The police did not initiate any investigation into the attacks, despite the complaint lodged by the pastor.

Last year eleven year old Christian Nadia Iftikhar suffered violent beatings at the hands of her teacher in a school Dharema, also in Punjab. The teacher reacted to the girl’s claim to be both "Christian and Pakistani”.  According to Ascari Hasan Rizvi, a political analyst in Lahore, the government has never wanted to start a serious reform of school curricula. And despite what is stated in the Constitution, in textbooks "Pakistan is associated with the Muslims ... and says that Pakistan is a country only for Muslims".

Rebecca Winthorpe of the Washington based Brookings Center for Universal Education, adds that " Historically education in Pakistan has been used as a tool by successive regimes in pursuing narrow political ends”.  Activists in defence of minorities, however, call for reform and a change of mentality that allows even the Christians, along with other minorities, to enhance the level of education (only 19% literate) and improve their quality of life .

See also

05/04/2012 PAKISTAN
Pakistani schoolbooks full of contempt and bigotry against Christians, Hindus and Sikhs
Pakistani curricula and textbooks promote extremism and violate minorities’ rights. An NCJP study notes distortions and requests a revision of the educational system, the first source of marginalization. Although minorities are guaranteed the possibility to deepen their own religion.

12/05/2005 PAKISTAN
Two nationalised schools handed back to the Catholic Church
Islamic teachers and groups threaten nation-wide demonstrations. Some consider the decision illegal, calling it an atrocity.

07/11/2011 SRI LANKA
Sri Lanka, Christian students discriminated against: no religion exam in English
The Ministry of Education does not allow students to register for Catholic and Christian religion in English, but only in Sinhala and Tamil. The demands of the Archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal. Ranjith, and President Rajapaksa were not taken into account by the Ministry.

11/10/2017 13:58:00 PAKISTAN
Christian boy tortured to death by Punjab police

He was killed during school lessons. He refused to convert to Islam. He had argued with his classmates who were witness to and promoters of the murder. Activists condemn violence and impunity at the expense of religious minorities: anyone who is free to act as an accuser, judge, and executioner. Justice and Peace: This trend is not new, but growing, uncontrolled and unpunished.

08/07/2010 PAKISTAN
Punjab soup kitchen forbidden to Christians
The service of cheap meals for the poor is widespread throughout the region and is sponsored by local authorities. In the district of Toba Tek Singh, the organizers of the kiosks, however, discriminate against Christians and claim that the canteen is only for Muslims. Moderate Islamic leaders condemn the incident and invited local authorities to take action.

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