MALALA YOUSAFZAI NOT THE ONLY ONE
If the pen is mightier than the sword then tongue is sharper and the injury of sword can be hailed but the injury of the tongue never hails and in the wars tongue is more destructive than any weapon
It is impossible not to sympathize with Malala, a young girl. It is shocking that a young girl would be targeted for simply wanting to go to school to acquire education, which is her birth right as it is of millions of other young girls in Pakistan as indeed elsewhere in the world.
Of more concern to me is this. I don’t understand why the United States and British Governments, and International Human rights organizations are promoting and highlighting Malala Yousafza so much.
There is one other dimension worthy of attention and that is what the former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has done. He has launched a United Nations petition using the slogan “I am Malala” demanding that all children in the world should be in school by 2015. Brown’s activities on behalf of Malala and indeed other children would sound nobler were it not for the fact he heads the “global campaign for charter, for-profit school systems.” Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie suggested Malala should be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize while Madonna put Malala’s name on her bare back! There are more terrible facts which need to be identified by Human Rights Organization, American Media and British Media as well.
July 12, 2013 was Malala’s 16th birthday. To celebrate Malala Day, the global community came together to highlight the leading role that youth can play in enabling all children to get an education. In support of the UN Secretary-General’s Global Education First Initiative, international youth leaders convened at the United Nations and in cities around the world in support of reaching the goal of having all children, especially girls, in school and learning by 2015.
I am wondering why such a day is not assigned to Omaya Almas, a nine year old Christian girl burned alive in 2009 in Gojra by extremists? Rimsha Masih, Pakistani-Christian girl who was accused of burning pages of the Qur’an and jailed, faced the death penalty under the country’s infamous blasphemy laws? Samuel Yaqoob, an 11 years old Christian boy was discovered with his lips and nose cut off, his stomach removed and his legs mutilated, according to police the body was later burned? A young Hindu girl brutally tortured and gang raped by police in Pakistan? Shia Hazaras young girls who were killed by Taliban in Quetta? Why such a day is not assigned to a 12 year old Christian girl, Shazia Masih, employed by a leading lawyer named Mohammad Naeem, as a house maid for a slave-like pittance of a few hundred rupees, was murdered after apparently being raped?
On 22nd of September 2013, a twin suicide bombing at All Saints Church in Peshawar in northern Pakistan has claimed the lives of 85 people and injured over 100 more. Among the dead, several children who attended Sunday School and members of the Church choir. A wing of the Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack, saying in a statement “They are the enemies of Islam, therefore we target them. We will continue our attacks on non-Muslims on Pakistan land”. Hundreds of Pakistani Christian children are under threats, they fear to go to school in different areas in Pakistan, they feared to attend their religious ceremonies. After the attack on All Saint Church Peshawar children in Lady Reading hospital's wards, if they retain their faith, will at some point lose out on jobs because of their religion.
Gazing up at the shrapnel-pocked walls of the church in which she and her family had grown up, Sunita Iqbal, 25, a teacher, said she had come to pray for her two older sisters who had died in explosions and cry for the one new life created from the tragedy. Her youngest sister had been six months pregnant and doctors safely delivered her baby three hours before she died. "The baby was born alive during her treatment and I've not stopped crying since," she said.
They may be accused under Pakistan's discriminatory blasphemy laws under which Christians can be jailed, or like Aasiya Bibi, a farm worker, sentenced to death after co-workers said she had insulted the Prophet Mohammad.
There is so much bias that incidents like Shanti Nagar, Sangla Hill, Bahawalpur, Texila, Toba Tek Singh, Islamabad, Sukur, Multan, Lahore, Faisalabad, Peshawar and Charsada etc take place where churches, Holy Bibles and houses are turned to ash with dynamite. Religious Minorities are segregated and treated as untouchables. They are harassed, threatened, kidnapped. Fake cases are registered against them and sometimes they are put to death illegally.
I did research studies on development and peace with special emphasis on the rights of religious monitories and indigenous people in Pakistan from 1993 – 2010. In 2008 I visited different areas of Pakistan including NWFP remote areas, I was conducting interviews for a research based study funded by Church of Sweden “Rise of Fundamentalism and Its Impact on Non Muslims” and State Accountability and Education Rights of Minorities in Pakistan. While religious fundamentalism in Pakistan is not a new phenomenon, it has strong roots and a historical backdrop. Slowly and gradually it has become a powerful and dangerous force in Pakistan. To start with the very key questions: why has fundamentalism strangled Pakistani Society? What are the reasons behind the rise in intolerance and fundamentalism? What are the forces behind this new wave of suicide bombs, target killings, kidnapping of Christian and Hindu girls, rape cases against minorities woman and young girls, torture and some other serious cases like blasphemy against minorities?
Pakistan is partner of the US in war on terror. The ongoing proxy war on terror has triggered a strong backlash against minorities in Pakistan, including ethnic and religious groups, where minorities continue to be repressed. Pakistan’s status as the frontline state for worldwide jihad is central to its governmental institutions and their absolute command over society. The role of the establishment injecting religious fanaticism and hatred is a classical case. The overt and covert roots of fundamentalism in Pakistan are leading toward intolerance and terrorism and its deadly impact on the minorities in Pakistan and beyond.
Pakistan has a very poor track record of protecting its minorities against social injustice. Ironically, the State, instead of safeguarding the rights of minorities, has enacted laws, which are patently discriminatory. No other law has had as grave social and psychological implications for religious minorities as have the blasphemy laws. The law enforcement agencies, mainstream electronic and print media do not cover the issues of religious minorities as they should. Minorities have few opportunities in other walks of life, such as education, jobs and other socio-political development of the country.
I am fully agreed with Malala to promote education but what kind of EDUCATION SYSTEM? In the view of the increasing incidence of violence in the Pakistan, are you looking to change and promote an environment of great tolerance? Study material on the rights of minorities and the need for tolerance for other faiths should be included in school curriculum.
Ms Malala and many others support and encourage you with all that you are saying, but how is it
possible for the Pakistani people to educate their people and bring progress without separating religion from its state affairs, and from the education system?
In Pakistan textbooks have often served as a tool in the hands of successive governments, for propagating their biased outlook towards history, politics, society, and religion, in order to shape a certain national identity. Authoritarian governments and the gatekeepers of ideology have always ensured the deliverance of carefully sifted contents to the students, in order to mould them in favour of an orthodox and reactionary system. Over the years the textbooks in every national classroom, with a markedly communal attitude, have produced a generation that is prejudiced and intolerant.
Pakistani education has failed to create national integrity and social harmony. Education Policies have produced extremists, warriors and suicide bombers instead of intellectuals and scientists. Teachings on hatred bias, sectarianism, religious intolerance and extremism have been placed in the textbooks. Students have become intolerant, extremists, prejudiced and biased against humanity in general after reading these textbooks.
Let me explain it with examples from the text books taught in Pakistani schools "Followers of other religions are often busy in garrulous manners on their festivals," "They do not express their relation or devotion with Allah. On the contrary, on one hand these two festivals of Islam provide an opportunity of entertainment and joy to Muslims and on the other hand they become a source to meet one another and to help the needy."
There is propagation, disinformation and attacks on the faiths of other religions. Students of other faiths are openly invited to convert to Islam through textbooks. There is a preaching of Islam in the subjects of social and physical sciences. Due to this, students of other faiths have to suffer and go through mental and physical persecution. Their innocent minds are often confused when they are forcibly taught teachings of Islam. Teaching and imposing another religion is the violation of fundamental Human Rights.
There is bias against the other faiths in the textbooks, electronic media and print media. This Culture of intolerance is at its peak and the Ministry of Education is responsible for this all.
The attitude of the academic staff is mostly biased against the students and employees of other faiths. There is preaching of Islam in almost all the subjects. Dignity of Islam and Muslim heroes is expressed in the lessons while there is negation, degradation and attacks on the other faiths and the heroes of those faiths. Sometimes derogatory language is used against other faiths in the textbooks. Here are some examples:
Sabir is a student of the sixth grade and studies at a government school in Lahore. Sabir said that he was treated harshly by the teacher at the government-run primary school he previously attended. His teacher used abusive language towards him, calling him “dirty” and “dirty Christian” (Choorhay Easi). He also used to beat him more than any other student in his class. In his current school, there are several students who ask Sabir to convert to Islam and say that if he becomes Muslim, they will provide him with money and care. He refused by saying that his elders take care of him already.
Sabir said he wants to learn about Christianity, not Islam, in school. His teacher said everyone should study Islamic Studies, but he was given a choice between Arabic and Computer Science (he opted for the latter). In primary school, he did not want to study Arabic, but was forced to by his teacher. Sabir wishes to be treated as a human being equal to everyone else and not discriminated against for not being Muslim. He also wants teachers and students to stop hurting his feelings or trying to convert him to Islam. Source: Pakistan Minorities Teachers’ Association
A Christian girl, Qandeel, secured A+ and A grades in every class and secured 79.79% marks in the final selection. Instead, admissions were offered to students who secured 73.51% including 20 extra marks for being a Hafiz-e-Quran (learning the Quran by heart).
Another Christian girl, Christina Philip told that she will never forget an incident in school during a physical education class when, as I was passing the volley ball to a Muslim girl, her eyes suddenly shot daggers at me and she screeched:
Why do you wear that cross with an idol on it?
“This is my prophet…Jesus”, I said in a hoarse whisper because mother had always told me never to argue with people about religion.
“Just like you wear that Allah around your neck, I wear the cross.”
“Idol worshipping is haraam, and the Prophet hated idol worshippers. You are a kafir (disbeliever)”
The word kafir has resonated within me forever.
There may be thousands examples of students in Pakistan who are being discriminated against because of this unjust and discriminatory ordinance which it seems is a continuous process of Islamising the state and makes non-Muslims 2nd class citizens of the country.
Students of other faith have been so much brain washed that they fear to appear in the subject of Ethics or Civics due to bias against them by the Muslim examiners. That is why they give priority to appear in the subject of Islamic Studies and have to hide their faiths. There is biased and intolerant material against the other faiths in the subject of Islamic Studies. Muslim students are provoked against the other faiths. Such words and terms are used that create disharmony among human beings. The antonym of ‘Muslim’ is ‘Kafir’ (non-believer). Textbooks are playing the role of clerics and are busy in preaching Islam to non-Muslims by all means. This can be simply observed from the following sentence which is taken from the book of Islamic studies, Grade 7, page 29 and line 12, “Write a letter to any of your non-Muslim friend conveying him/her the invitation of Islam”.
There is the use of Islamic terms in the subjects of Social Sciences and languages. There are lessons of Arabic and Islamic teachings in the subjects of Urdu Languages especially and students belonging to other faiths are forced to study them. Students of other faiths other than Islam have to face biased and discriminatory attitude of the teachers in the practical of Home Economics, Muslim teachers mostly do not taste the cooking of these students and menial establishment is asked to taste their cooking and to the report the teacher/s.
There is discrimination with the students of other faiths in the assembly in the public educational institutions. There is recitation from the Quran, Naat (a poem in Praise of Prophet Mohammad), and sermon delivered from the teachings of Islam. Students of other faiths are forced to attend the assembly that is held for the Muslim Students. Students and teachers of other faiths face problem to pronounce the exact names of Islamic terms which are mostly in Arabic.
Students of other faiths are deliberately ignored in the classes. They are treated as untouchables and are segregated. They cannot use utensils in which Muslim students eat or drink. There is inhuman treatment with them. They are called as “Choora” (Untouchables)
There is discrimination of 20 marks with the students of other faith in NAZRA (reciting the Quran by heart). This discrimination entirely goes against the student of other faiths in Pakistan and it becomes very difficult for them to get admission in higher education.
My Dear Malala, you are not the only one shot by Pakistani Taliban. Now I come to the main point that is EDUCATION, it is amazing that you are shouting for education.
Are you and the UNO pretending that you were shot due to education when that is not the reason? Be honest. There is a big question mark here, both for you and all your supporters, who never seem to take any steps when they hear of the many horror stories of abduction, rape, false blasphemy accusations and murders that Pakistani Christians suffer. Are you and your supporters really willing to change the education system in Pakistan, which is creating religious intolerance in Pakistan?
Are you willing to launch an effective advocacy campaign in order to challenge the current fundamentalist religious political interests that have become a formidable barrier in the way of education reform in Pakistan? Non-Muslims and other vulnerable groups have made enormous contributions in every sphere of our life. Ironically, even then they cannot become good citizens as the proponents of the theocratic approach seek to promote an agenda for an Islamic chauvinistic state that defines good citizenship through a religious framework. In their view, only an orthodox Muslim is a good citizen. Here it can be said that acquisition of religious knowledge is neither necessary nor sufficient for preparing good citizens.
The textbooks continue to refer to the “ideology of Pakistan,” stressing that Pakistan was created for Islam hence a good citizen is a person who follows Islamic teachings and seeks to strengthen the Muslim Ummah or community. By creating a compliant Muslim citizenry, the textbooks seek to create a monolithic Islamic state, a mission that is conceptually at odds with the notion of the modern nation-state. Conversely, a good citizen is a person who lives by democratic ideals such as religious freedom and equality.