Thursday, June 24, 2010

Pakistan madrassas 'do not stoke militancy' ~ ahem!

Girls from the Red Mosque madrassa, Islamabad.

Pack away the guns and ammunition the inspectors are coming!!

To make a statement that Pakistan's madrassas do not stoke militancy is crazy. Where the evidence shows otherwise. Take the girls from the Red Mosque, a school parked right across from the Defence Ministry in Pakistan's capital Islamabad. The trouble started when the girls were sent out with sticks to enforce Islamic law on the local area. And became an international incident when they arrested/took hostage a few Chinese massage workers. The Chinese government said they could understand this happening in the outlying areas of Pakistan but not in the capital. When the Pakistan authorities finally moved into the school, the burqaed teenage girls, where shouting from the roof of the school ~ in the few days it took to finally break into the place ~ that they were willing to die as martyrs for Allah. The average school doesn't teach this.

When they finally brought the fortress school down ~ the brothers were in a shoot out against the police ~ there was an arsenal of weapons stored inside the mosque. Anti-tank mines, missiles guns ~ hardware! Further when the mosque leader was released from prison ~ captured trying to escape the mayhem in a burqa ~ he claimed in a speech in the tribal lands ~ that the rise militancy was in large part due to the work done in the Red Mosque.

There was another Pakistan madrassa which mysteriously exploded! There was the one kid caught coming over the Afghan border in a suicide vest ~ who said he was trained in a madrassa. There was reading the Koran for most of the day and military training in the evenings. There was also the documentary of the American kids, who spent a few years in a Pakistani madrassa. And by the end of filming they were completely brainwashed. Anti-American anti-western ~ probably bordering on anti-life ~ and because they are American they are going back home.

It is irresponsible to make the claim ~ that militancy does to arise from these madrassas.

The report does rightly points out what a mess the Pakistani school system is in. There was one famous report that looked at what some of the state schools were teaching kids. A for Allah, J for Jihad and in their own language B for Gun.

Islamic schools - or madrassas - in Pakistan are not stoking militancy or extremism, a report by a leading US think-tank has concluded.

The Brookings Institution report says that while religious schools are often cited as a cause of extremism, they 'appear not to be a major risk factor'.

The report says that fewer than 10% of Pakistani students attended madrassas.

It says that the real cause of militancy in the country is the poor public education system.

Urgent priority
Report co-author Rebecca Winthrop, a Brookings fellow, said that number of militant madrassas was not increasing.

She said that most Pakistani parents preferred not to send their children to school at all rather than to enrol them in madrassas.

"We do need to take the militant madrassa issue very seriously," she said at the launch of the report.

"We should really leave the question of the role of Islam in the Pakistan education system to the Pakistanis to debate. This is not something that I think is fruitful if outsiders - us here in the US - start weighing in on."

The study found that the most urgent priority was to increase the supply of schools in Pakistan, where a literacy rate of 56% is among the lowest outside of sub-Saharan Africa.

The researchers said that low enrolment rates were "a risk factor for violence" and that demand for education inside Pakistan "far exceeded the government's ability to provide it".

Furthermore, Pakistan's public school system was "highly corrupt" with teaching positions handed out in return for political favours and teachers paid regardless or whether they turned up for work or not.

"The way the education system is set up is contributing to support militancy," said Ms Winthrop.

"Historically education in Pakistan has been used as a tool by successive regimes in pursuing narrow political ends."

She said that the curriculum and teaching methods in public schools promoted the dissemination of intolerant views and did not prepare students in their search for employment.

The report said that this turn frustrated youngsters and increased the pool of militant recruits.

"The almost exclusive focus on madrassas as a security challenge - which is especially prevalent in the west - needs to be corrected," the report said.

BBC News - Pakistan madrassas 'do not stoke militancy'

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