Pakistan textbooks raise debate about 'curriculum of hate'
ICC Note: Government-sanctioned school textbooks in Pakistan contain blatantly anti-religious-minority material, the Christian Science Monitor reports. Pakistani children are taught that other religious groups, mainly Hindus and Christians, are the enemies of Muslims. Pakistani Christians often tell ICC that they are viewed as second class citizens and even as non-Pakistani. “All Pakistanis are Muslims, we’re told,” said one Christian. Christian children are also harassed in public schools, often times as a result of the material being read in school textbooks.
By Taha Siddiqui
2/28/2013 Pakistan (Christian Science Monitor) – In a public school located just outside the capital, a classroom of ninth-graders follows quietly along in their history textbooks as their teacher reads out loud about what happened shortly after the creation of Pakistan in 1947:
“Caravans that were on the way to Pakistan were attacked by Hindus and Sikhs. Not a single Muslim was left alive in trains coming to Pakistan.”
As the magnitude of the sentence registers with the students, the phrase “No Muslim was left alive!” echoes around the classroom from whispered lips. Students are clearly engaged with the subject and clearly disturbed with what history they have just learned.
The only problem? That description in the students' books is highly misleading.
“Such textbooks try to create and define Pakistani nationalism in a very narrow sense. It tries to define it in term of an Islamic identity,” says Abdul Hameed Nayyar, a well-known historian, activist, and former physicist who is part of a Lahore-based campaign to encourage teachers around the country to raise awareness about this issue by calling it “the curriculum of hatred” and encouraging teachers to stop using the textbooks.
After the teacher finishes reading, he asks another student to continue reading aloud from the next chapter, which focuses on why Pakistan came into existence: "Narrow-mindedness of the Hindus and the conspiracies of whites led to the call of this Islamic country, Pakistan.”
When asked later about his opinion of Hindus and Christians, the student reiterates what his textbook said. “I think Hindus are against Pakistan, against Islam. Hindus are like that. And even the British and the non-Muslims – they still oppose Pakistan,” he adds.