Pakistani School Textbooks Are Teaching Children to Hate Christians, Report Finds

A girl attends a class at a makeshift school on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan, April 7, 2014. | (Photo: Reuters/Mian Khursheed)

The National Commission for Justice and Peace has found that Pakistani school textbooks are full of material that incite hatred and intolerance against non-Muslims, including Christians, which it said was a "red flag" for the country.

"This is not only about religious minorities but a national issue," NCJP Executive Director Cecil Shane Chaudhry said, according to AsiaNews. "It is a red flag for the government, which must ask the Church to promote the role of minorities in creating and defending the country."

The human rights group released a 40-page study that analyzed state-approved school material in Pakistan's four provinces, and concluded that children are taught religious fanaticism and extremism.

NCJP also alleged that school textbooks omit historical facts in an attempt to encourage negative perception of non-Muslims.

Mohammad Tahseen, founding director of the South Asia Partnership Pakistan, said that the report needs to be shared far and wide.

"This is more than an academic effort. The cited references from the syllabus are normal for many parliamentarians. We produce Muslim fighters because we have chosen weapon wielding warriors as our heroes instead of poets or Sufi saints," Tahseen said.

Earlier this year, the Pakistan Minorities Teacher's Association wrote a letter to the Chief Justice of Pakistan to look into the victimization of non-Muslim students, Christians in Pakistan reported.

The letter revealed that some Christian students have had Islam forced upon them, with one student claiming that he was forced to recite an Islamic prayer made for abandoning one's previous religion and embracing Islam.

"Public sector educational institutions/environment in Pakistan is deliberately attempting/persuading to convert the religions of all Pakistani non-Muslim students because they have become religious centers of the dominant religion of Pakistan," the letter from April wrote.

"They are not ready to accept the religious identity of non-Muslim students at any cost. They are forced to study Islamic beliefs and practices in the subjects of languages, social sciences, pure sciences and Islamic studies from school education to higher education."

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has also warned that Pakistan's textbooks negatively impact over 41 million children.

"Pakistan's public school textbooks contain deeply troubling content that portrays non-Muslim citizens as outsiders, unpatriotic, and inferior; are filled with errors; and present widely-disputed historical 'facts' as settled history," former USCIRF Chairman Robert P. George wrote back in April.

"Missing from these textbooks are any references to the rights of religious minorities and their positive contributions to Pakistan's development. These textbooks sadly reflect the alarming state today of religious freedom in Pakistan. A country's education system, including its textbooks, should promote religious tolerance, not close the door to cooperation and coexistence."

Christians have also faced regular attacks, including beatings and kidnappings throughout 2016, reports have said.

Back in July, the father of a 16-year-old Pakistani Christian girl who was sexually assaulted by Muslim attackers in Sheikhupura, Punjab, said that he finds no hope in the nation's legal system.

The father, Nasar Masih, said that he does not "have much hope for justice," with persecution watchdog groups like International Christian Concern also warning that the authorities "will undoubtedly side with the rapist."

"There are many such instances of persecution of Christians at the hands of Muslims in Pakistan, with little reaction or justice from the authorities," ICC added.

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