Pakistan’s Schoolbooks Deliver ‘Public Shaming’ to Christians

Textbooks in Pakistan’s public schools have become more antagonistic toward Christians and other religious minorities in the past five years, a new report says.

“The trend toward a more biased curriculum towards religious minorities is accelerating,” it says. “These grossly generalized and stereotypical portrayals of religious minority communities signal that they are untrustworthy, religiously inferior, and ideologically scheming and intolerant.”

 

The source

The report, scheduled to be released 12 April in Washington, D.C., is sponsored by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, an advisory body to the U.S. Congress and state department. By law, the commission’s assessments of religious freedom in other countries are required to figure in to American diplomatic relations around the globe. Click here to download the report.

 

Why it’s important

1. Textbooks are an expression of national policy. According to the report: “School textbooks represent the political perspectives and national ideologies of whole educational and government systems. As such, school textbooks are one of the most important indicators of official and popular perspectives of the cultural and political communities they depict both in words and images.”

2. The textbooks “continue to violate the constitutional rights of religious minorities by integrating Islamic ideology into most subjects and to promote a national Islamic identity at the expense of Hindu, Christian, and Sikh children.”

 

About the study

It was conducted for USCIRF by the Peace and Education Foundation, a Pakistan-based non-governmental organization. It claims to have “trained more than 11,000 religious actors in Pakistan, including madrasah teachers and faculty, mosque imams, and interfaith leaders.”

The researchers started by consulting a 2011 USCIRF review of textbook bias. From that review, the researchers took 25 examples of religious bias, and examined 78 current textbooks to see if they had changed. The books are used in grades 5-10 in four Pakistan provinces: Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Together, those four encompass 95 percent of Pakistan’s population. Pakistan has more than 260,000 schools where more than 1.5 million teachers have contact with 41 million students.

 

What it found

  • 16 of the biased elements had been removed
  • 9 remained, either in their 2011 form or changed in ways that did not remove the bias
  • 70 new examples of religious bias in 24 textbooks

Pockets of improvement were found in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Why? Researchers said they had been able to meet directly with the Punjab governor, and with education ministers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

More than eight of every 10 new examples of bias were found in Balochistan and Sindh.

 

Examples:

Removed by 2016

“Anti-Islamic forces are always trying to finish the Islamic domination of the world. This can cause danger for the very existence of Islam. Today, the defense of Pakistan and Islam is very much needed.”

 

Grade 5, Punjab

A 2011 example that was changed but without removing bias

2011: “Christian Missionaries took full advantage of the British occupation of Asia and, under their patronage, started converting people of different religions to Christianity.”

2016: “The influence of Christian pastors had increased immensely and they were openly preaching their religion aided by their rule. They freely visited the cities and villages, organized gatherings to describe the qualities of Christianity and degraded other religions.”

 

Grade 8, Sindh

Added since 2011

“After getting rid of the proscribed and ignorant rule of the Church, Europeans progressed in the fields of knowledge/education, political acceptance and in arts and crafts.”

 

Grade 6, Punjab

Key findings

Heavy emphasis on pre-partition period. A major thrust of Pakistan’s public-school curriculum is “the desire to teach a sense of patriotism and nationalism and instruct students about the rationale for creating Pakistan,” the report said. The result is a focus on the “alleged animosities Hindus have of Muslims and tensions between Muslims and the British (and Christian) colonial power in pre-partition India.”

Islam is key to Pakistani identity. “Students are taught a version of history that promotes a national Islamic identity of Pakistan and often describes conflicts with India in religious terms,” the report said.

Overemphasis of military war heroes, “educating Pakistanis in the most superficial way.”

Suspicious of Christians. “Christians also are portrayed as untrustworthy missionaries, and as aligned with British oppressors who were colonizers and continue to conspire against Muslims.”

In sum: Pakistan’s curriculum “places religious minority students in a precarious status of either inherently flawed Pakistani citizens at best, or foreigners and enemies of the state at worst. If the theme is carried further, religious minority students are not only outsiders, but also dangerous contaminants to the Islamic national identity by virtue of their non-Muslim faith.”

 

Conclusion

“The public school system is still fundamentally intolerant of religious minorities and Christian children are taught that ‘Christians learned tolerance and kind-heartedness from Muslims.’ This represents a public shaming of religious minority children that begins at a very young age, focusing on their religious and cultural identity and their communities’ past history.”

 

Recommendations

“Constitutional guarantees provided to all Pakistanis of religious freedom should be reflected in textbooks’ contents.

“Negative indoctrination must end and impartial content for better critical learning should be adopted.

“The curriculum should inculcate a sense of constructive patriotism rather than a sense of fear.

“Overemphasis on Islam as being the ‘only correct’ faith must be eliminated from the textbooks. “Historical omissions and misrepresentations of different events must be eliminated to avoid controversial historiography, and diverse viewpoints should be included.”

 

Read Original Article Here

 

Keep praying for our brothers and sisters in Pakistan.

 

.

Advertisements

Pakistan: Christian teenager kidnapped, raped, and forced to convert to Islam shares her testimony

pakistani-christians-protesting

Komal, 15, was abducted from her home in Pakistan, raped and forced to convert from Christianity to Islam in June last year. She suffered unrelenting abuse and was forced to marry one of her rapists, who acted as her pimp and she fell pregnant. Throughout her captivity, she had faith that Jesus would be faithful and rescue her from the hell she was experiencing. In February, she managed to escape, and has since shared her story with International Christian Concern (ICC).

“I was sleeping along with my mother on a single bed during a power-cut time in my house yard,” Komal told ICC, describing the evening she was abducted.

“At around midnight, five armed men with masks climbed over the boundary wall and entered into [our] house.

“The armed men brutally beat the entire family and threatened them [with] severe consequences if they shouted for help,” she said.

“Then, the kidnappers dragged me from my mother’s lap to their car in the street. My eyes and mouth were covered with a piece of cloth and they took me to [an] unknown place where five of them raped me in front of each other, taking turns.”

Her kidnappers continued to abuse her during her six months in captivity.

“Burning my female parts with cigarettes was a routine exercise for them,” she said. “Almost for two months they beat me every day for nothing and did not give [me] enough food to eat.”

Komal was forced to legally change her religion from Christianity to Islam and marry one of her captors with forged documents claiming she was 18.

“After almost two months of inhuman treatment and humiliation, they took me to the courthouse and forced me to put my thumb impression on a document that declared me the wife of a Muslim,” she said.

In Pakistan, a woman’s husband has full legal custody of his wife.

“I did not want this to happen, however, I had no other option because they threatened to kill my parents if I did not obey. Therefore, they forcefully married me to a Muslim and converted me to Islam.

“Without my wish they changed my religion, my identity and even my name,” she said.

“My new husband, who continued to rape me for the next two months, then moved to another city. This man already had two wives at his house.”

Her new husband forced Komal to become a prostitute, which she described as “the worst agony of all”:

“I felt like dying every day… I had become a forced prostitute. He even hired a watch-woman to keep an eye on me almost round the clock.”

Throughout this, Komal said: “I had faith that Jesus would get me out of this hell.”

In February, the opportunity to escape arose.

“Before sun rise, I managed to sneak away from the house to an urban area after walking about five hours. I begged for money from the people there to cover a bus fare and was able to reach my home after sunset on the same day.

“I am thankful for this mercy and the miracle of rejoining my parents now. I couldn’t stop crying when I hugged my parents and family for the first time,” she said.

“One can hardly imagine the painful situation which I and my parents experienced. It was like rising from the dead.”

During her captivity, Komal became pregnant. “I am confused about what to do with my unborn baby. What will the future of my child be if I give birth to him or her?”

Komal’s story is not unique – there are as many as 700 Christian women and girls, often between 12-25, who are abducted and forcibly converted to Islam each year, according to research by the Movement for Solidarity and Peace.

“I want justice, but do not want to put my parents in danger,” Komal said.

“Those people are very rich and influential and therefore we cannot go into the legal process against them. I just want to be divorced and try to plan a happier life.”

 

Read Original Article Here

Open Doors’ annual list of countries where Christians face the worst persecution:

unnamed-2

Each year, Open Doors releases a list of the top 50 countries where Christians are facing the worst persecution because of their faith. The Open Doors World Watch List (WWL) is the only annual survey of religious liberty conditions of Christians around the world, and measures freedom in five key areas of life: private, family, community, national and church life, plus a sixth sphere measuring the degree of violence.

PERSECUTION RISES WORLDWIDE IN A LAWLESS YEAR 

The most oppressive regime in contemporary times, North Korea, tops this year’s Open Doors World Watch List for the 14th consecutive year. Eritrea and Pakistan rise to their highest levels, to #3 and #6 respectively, and lawless Libya also enters the top 10 for the first time ever. Islamic extremism constitutes the main persecuting force in thirty five of the top fifty countries, with Religious nationalism and Dictatorial paranoia also rising sharply. The degree of persecution of Christians was confirmed to be rising, with Open Doors’ researchers recording an average persecution increase of 2.6 points in this year’s Top 50 compared to last year.

The Open Doors World Watch List is published every January and lists the 50 countries worldwide where Christians experience the most persecution. Persecution is understood as any hostility experienced as a result of one’s identification with Christ. This can include hostile attitudes, words and actions towards Christians. Research methods and results have been independently audited by the International Institute for Religious Freedom (IIRF).

In the reporting period (1 November 2014 – 31 October 2015) the Top Ten countries where Christians find it hardest to practice their faith are: North Korea (92 pts), Iraq (90 pts), Eritrea (89 pts), Afghanistan (88 pts), Syria (87 pts), Pakistan (87 pts), Somalia (87 pts), Sudan (84 pts), Iran (83 pts) and Libya (79 pts).

Eritrea and Pakistan – Two major risers in the Top Ten

Dubbed the “North Korea of Africa”, Eritrea ranks among the very worst countries in terms of freedom of religion, freedom of press, rule of law and other human rights records. Driving the persecution of Christians is first and foremost president Afewerki’s Dictatorial paranoia. Any Christian who dares to speak up in Eritrea and protest the treatment of Christians is jailed or arrested no matter what their status. The former Patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Church, Abune Antonius, has been under house arrest since 2007 for speaking out. According to a UNHCR report from November 2014, 22 per cent of all refugees reaching Italy by boat are Eritrean. “Eritrean Christians, even though they know that there is a very high probability of falling into the hands of traffickers and ruthless radical groups like the IS, are still desperate to escape from Eritrea”, one researcher confirmed.

The world’s second largest Muslim country, Pakistan has risen to #6 and is the only country getting the maximum score in the violence category in the World Watch List together with Nigeria. The level of pressure is high in all spheres of life and persecution does not come from the State as much as from radical Islamic groups. The reporting period started with the killing of a Christian couple, working in a brick kiln on 4 November 2014 by a furious mob and climaxed in a twin bomb attack on two churches in Lahore on 15 March 2015, leaving 25 dead and wounding dozens. This overt violence conceals the everyday abuse of Christian girls who are frequently abducted, raped, forced to marry and convert, and the country’s 3.8 million Christians feel increasingly under threat in their daily lives.

Newcomers in the Top 50 – Niger and Bahrain

The entry score for the Top 50 has risen by almost 5 points, which sends out a very worrying signal and shows that the World Watch List is really just a record of the tip of an iceberg. The WWL 2016 contains only two newcomers: Niger and Bahrain enter at #49 and #48 respectively. For Niger, the spread of Boko Haram into its territory has caused violence against and fear among Christians to rise sharply. In Bahrain, the sultan’s gradual introduction of Sharia law has already begun to seriously restrict the public witness of Christian faith in the country.

These two new entries have ousted Sri Lanka and Mauritania from the Top 50, which were outflanked this year by rises in persecution in other countries. Despite leaving the official listing, the situation for these countries has not improved. In Sri Lanka churches are still being attacked by local Buddhist communities, despite fresh hopes of protection for religious minorities being placed in the recently elected new government. Mauritania is one of only four official “Islamic Republics” in the world, and the influence of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in Mauritania is growing. The monitoring of all Christian activity has continued but happily violence has been very low in the reporting period.

The Smash and Squeeze

The Open Doors World Watch List is unique not only as the instrument that measures the persecution of Christians annually, buts its methodology is designed to track how the exercise of the Christian faith gets squeezed in five distinct areas – private life, family life, community life, national life and church life, as well as covering violence such as rapes, killings and church burnings. Dr. Ronald Boyd-MacMillan, Director of Research at Open Doors International, explains why: “It is possible for persecution to be so intense in all areas of life that Christians fear to witness at all, and so you may find very low levels of violence as a result since incidents of persecution often result from acts of witness.”

The countries that show where this squeeze was most intensive were: Somalia, North Korea, Eritrea, Afghanistan, Maldives, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Syria. The highest levels of violence directed against Christians (in countries listed in WWL 2016) were in Nigeria, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Myanmar, Central African Republic, Egypt, Mexico, Sudan and India.

Open Doors records show that worldwide there were well over 7,000 Christians killed for faith-related reasons in the reporting period. That is a rise of almost 3,000 in comparison to conservative figures from the WWL 2015 period. This is excluding North Korea, and partly Syria and Iraq, where accurate records do not exist. Statistics also show that more than 2,400 churches were attacked or damaged, which is over double the number for last year.

In Nigeria news of violence has been dominated by the brutality of the radical Islamic militants, Boko Haram. But as Frans Veerman, the Director of the WWL Unit explains, even without Boko Haram, “that would still leave the Hausa-Fulani Muslim herdsmen regularly committing atrocities against indigenous Christian farmers in the Middle Belt states. Out of the more than 4,000 Christians who lost their lives in attacks in Nigeria in the reporting period, 2,500 are attributed to Boko Haram and not less than 1,500 to the Hausa-Fulani herdsmen. At least 30,000 Christians have been displaced through the violence in Taraba State alone. These are the results of fact-finding on the ground but the researchers estimate that

they uncovered only 50% of the atrocities committed. This is looking like ethnic cleansing based on religious affiliation.”

Christians in conflict hotspots – Iraq, Yemen, Kenya

The conflict zones of the world are very often regions where Christians are especially vulnerable. Whilst the world media fixes its attention to the battles and bombings, in the background the Islamic State (IS) is radicalizing populations even in countries where it has no apparent presence. The Kurdish region of north Iraq (which has risen 4 points to #2) is currently acting as a safe haven for thousands of Christian refugees from Mosul and the Nineveh Plain. But even there, the government is ordering land to be sold to Muslim families in several predominantly Christian areas and towns. This “demographic reversal process” in many majority Christian areas is forcing Christians to live precariously in a minority situation – or leave. In Yemen (#11), which missed entering the Top 10 by just one point, Saudi Arabia and Iran are fighting a proxy war. Virtually all Western expatriates have fled the civil war, leaving just a few thousand brave Muslim Background Believers in the country. The Church is holding on by the skin of its teeth.

Another region with an increasingly radicalized Muslim population are the northern and coastal areas of Kenya, which has risen 5 points to #16. Attacks from al-Shabaab adherents killed 28 Christians on a bus from Mandera on 22 November 2014. 36 Christian quarry workers were killed on 2 December 2014, again in Mandera; 147 Christian university students in Garissa were killed on 2 April 2015, and 14 Christian quarry workers were killed in Mandera on 7 July 2015. Most of these were “execution-style” killings and Christians were targeted specifically by separating them from Muslims. It is to be feared that the situation for Christians will continue to deteriorate, especially as pressure in all spheres of life is high.

Central Asia – Rising persecution through surveillance of terror networks

Christians living in Central Asian states have seen a sharp deterioration in their religious freedom, especially as these governments increase their surveillance and control on all groups in society, often cynically citing a need to crack down on Islamist inspired terror. Uzbekistan is a perennial occupant of the top 20 (at #15) with Turkmenistan joining it at #19, and Tajikistan (at #31 moving up from #45) and Azerbaijan (at #34 from #46) constituting some of this year’s significant risers.

The goal – Supporting the people behind the figures

The Open Doors World Watch List is published annually as a tool 1) for media to raise awareness 2) for politicians to make informed decisions and 3) for churches around the world to support and pray for their brothers and sisters on the frontline. World maps displaying the spread of persecution against Christians and further detailed information on the situation in specific countries are available from all Open Doors offices.

For 60 years, Open Doors has worked to strengthen Christians in the world’s most oppressive and restrictive countries. The WWL has also been independently audited by the International Institute for Religious Freedom to help make the information gathering and calculation process more transparent.

Access the World Watch Map Here

Please consider giving to this wonderful organization in order to help those that are persecuted. You can do so by clicking here.

You can also sign up for the new letter by clicking here.

Open Doors World Watch List 2015

wwl map 2015

The World Watch List ranks countries according to the intensity of persecution Christians face for actively pursuing their faith. The list is compiled from a specially-designed questionnaire of 50 questions covering various aspects of religious freedom. A point value is assigned depending on how each question is answered. The total number of points per country determines its position on the World Watch List of the world’s worst persecutors of Christians. The World Watch List lists the 50 countries where faith costs the most. The list is based on detailed information from Open Doors co-workers in over 65 countries, as well as independant experts. Worldwide, the List reports an overall increase in the persecution of Christians in 2014. 

The Open Doors’ WWL 2015 tracks a marked increase in persecution for Christian communities in a large number of African states. Sudan, Eritrea and Nigeria make their appearance in the Top 10. Kenya and Djibouti have marked the steepest climb on the list, and Tanzania and Eritrea also scored significantly higher compared to 2014.

While Africa saw the most rapid growth of persecution, the Middle East saw targeted attacks, resulting in a mass exodus of Christians. In forty countries of the Top 50, Islamic extremism was a major source of persecution. It would be fair to say that the WWL 2015 again shows that the persecution of Christians seems to become more intense in more countries of the world. Approximately 100 million Christians are persecuted worldwide, making them one of the most persecuted religious groups in the world. While persecution can take many forms, Christians throughout the world risk imprisonment, torture, rape and even death as result of their faith.

World Watch List 2015 – Top 10 Countries – Including Summaries