Monday, May 20, 2013

Wake up Policy Makers

Over the Centuries people from different cultures and regions have always given more importance to the prevalent religion in that particular region at that particular time. Christianity has its roots in the Middle East which was preached and practiced in Europe while Islam which too has its origins in the Middle East found a permanent foothold in Asia and Africa. To openly claim that one’s religion is superior to the other is in itself an act of blasphemy.

Muslims live in North America, Europe, Australia and other non Muslim countries, but never have the education system in these countries ever tried to impose an alien religious subject on other children, nor have the Muslim children ever been brainwashed into believing that their religion is inferior to those of other religions. As a matter of fact all children in non-Muslims countries are taught the importance of national unity, patriotism, love for humanity & economic development of their respective countries.

Here in Pakistan Since the foundation of Pakistan special emphasis is given to Islamiyat (Islamic Studies) in all educational institutions from primary to under-graduate level. Diverse subject as Mathematics, Science, Geography, History and even language subject such as Urdu, Punjabi and Sindhi have Islamic concoction in them. Alternative subjects such as Civics & Ethics are given little or no importance and even in these subjects, Islam is present. This is well and okay if all the students in Pakistan come from Islamic backgrounds – what happen to children from Christian backgrounds? What alternative subjects are taught to them that do not include Islam? I am afraid the answer to the above two questions is not positively reassuring.

Islamiyat is taught to Christian children from kindergarten to undergraduate level and when these children reach the upper level, they are reasonably brainwashed by then into believing that Islam is the only superior religion and that their belief in Jesus Christ or Christianity is wrong – Holy Bible has been amended and due to this fact it is no longer accurate and an inferior religion. Teachers also coax these Christian children (05 years old and above) to renounce Christianity & embrace Islam to redeem themselves from sin and teach them about a place in paradise. Our Christian children when at home pose serious & misinterpreted questions to their parents about the activities that took place in their respective school and begin to questions their faith creating an atmosphere of uncertainly, alienation & inferiority complex which later in life causes entrenched doubts about their religious conviction and even a switch to Islam, based on the earlier misinterpreted version imparted by their Islamiyat teachers. It is no secret that these Islamiyat teachers are in fact aggressively promoting Islam with the tacit approval of their respective educational hierarchy, which in turn is taking their instructions from the Government of Pakistan. Is this approach correct?

Let’s take another example. There was a hue & cry in France and other European Countries about the issue of Muslim female students not allowed wearing the scarf while in school. The Government of France made it amply clear that all students in France must all follow the rule & regulations and that the dress code did not include religious insignia or restrictions. The point is that extremists prefer to adhere to their religious values in non –Muslim countries but force Islamic value to non-Muslims in their own countries. Why the double standard? According to the constitution of Pakistan, every citizen is equal in the eyes of the state. Holy Quran explicitly forbids Muslims from discriminating against other religions & non-Muslims and clearly instructs Muslims to treat non-Muslims better than they would their own kind. Islam also preaches that all men are equal and that tolerance towards non-Muslims should be happily accepted by Muslims. Why then the unnecessary discrimination? Pakistani Government boasts about the rising number of coverts to Islam in the non-Muslim world but in almost all existing Muslim countries, other religions are not allowed to flourish, instead other religions are demonized. Since the foundation of Pakistan, the government is busy in preaching Islam. Muslim Fundamentalists and extremists never provide a level playing field and usually resort to unethical & provocative methods to inflict physiological torture on non- Muslims in their countries.

Religion can never be forced onto others, we the Christians in Pakistan are guaranteed religious freedom both by the constitution of Pakistan as well as the United Nations (Pakistan is a veteran member of the United Nations) but this guarantee only exists on paper- the reverse is actually applicable.

To compound problems Islamiyat is taught in the Arabic language – once again an alien and irrelevant language both for Muslim & Christian students alike, whom face extreme difficulty in comprehending this language. Then there are a few schools that teach civics or Ethics instead of Islamiyat but it becomes difficult for children whom are studying these particular subjects to successfully pass their examinations because there are no teachers of Ethics. Besides the books of Ethics cannot be found anywhere in the market. Moreover the books of Ethics are full of Islamic Studies and are against Christianity. This is another hand testing method adopted by the educators into compelling students from opting out of Civics/ Ethics in favor of Islamiyat.

Interestingly enough Christian students, who complete Islamiyat examinations, are given good grades, even though they may not have made a serious attempt to pass.

Peace Worldwide strongly urges the Government both at Federal & Provincial level to cease teaching Islamiyat to Christians, instead appoint teachers from Christian background to teach Christianity to Christian students. This will improve the unemployment situation for the Christians, create an atmosphere of tolerance and brotherhood and will give Christians a sense of security – sorely missing in Pakistan.

We the Christians of Pakistan applauds the Government into allowing Aga Khan Board to be established; similarly we recommended that a Christian Board to be created to facilitate children from Christian background.

Forcibly eradicating other religious value & beliefs will only create an atmosphere of distrust, contempt, intolerance, discrimination & loss of self-esteem, a situation currently in existence here in Pakistan. Wake up Policy makers before it’s too late.

Hector Aleem
Peace Worldwide
(NGO in Special Consultative Status
With the ECOSOC of the United Nations)

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