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08/13/2019 Malaysia (International Christian Concern) – After many have criticized the plan of Malaysia’s Education Ministry to teach khat—the calligraphic form of Arabic—in elementary schools, the government backtracked on making khat calligraphy learning compulsory. It will be an elective subject in Mandarin and Tamil schools.

In addition, the khat lessons will not be subject to “any form of exams, tests or assessments,” according to Education Minister Maszlee Malk.

The Education Ministry initially said in July that lessons on khat would be introduced in Malay lessons in year four of primary schools starting from next year. However, as a multi-cultural society, other ethnic and religious groups in Malaysia had criticized the government of trying to “Islamize” education and the course would not help students improve their language skills.

Asia News reports that Christians have been the leading critics of the introduction of khat in school curricula. For more than ten years, they have been at the center of a major controversy over the use of the word “Allah” to refer to God.

Radical Muslims consider the term to be exclusive to Islam, and the issue has triggered violence, with targeted attacks against Christian churches and places of worship, as well as seizures and profanations of sacred books.

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