US Panel: Pakistani Schools Intolerant of Religious Minorities

Posted November 9th, 2011 at 11:35 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

A U.S. government panel says textbooks in Pakistan's public schools and madrassas negatively portray Hindus, Christians and other religious minorities in the country.

In a report released Wednesday, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom said such biases fuel acts of discrimination and possible violence.

The commission found that public school textbooks often had a strong Islamic slant, and that religious minorities were referred to in a derogatory way or omitted.

The report said Hindus were depicted in especially negative terms, and references to Christians were often inaccurate and offensive. The report also said teachers expressed negative views about Christians, Jews and Ahmadis, a sect of Islam.

The head of the commission, Leonard Leo, said teaching discrimination increases the likelihood that violent religious extremism in Pakistan will continue to grow. He said such teachings weaken religious freedom, and national and regional stability.

The U.S. commission and the independent Pakistani think tank, Sustainable Development Policy, reviewed more than 100 textbooks in schools from Pakistan's four provinces. Students and teachers from public schools and madrassas were also interviewed.