Chief Justice of Pakistan has been urged to look into the matter of a Christian student not allowed to sit in for an Islamic Studies exam because he had not done “wuzu.” Followed by the news of this incident circulated, Professor Anjum James Paul, intervened and wrote a letter to Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali – urging him to pay heed to the biased attitude which the students from religious minorities have to face in educational institutions.
Along the lines of reports, a beyond the pale incident took place on March 29, when 13-year-old, Christian student – Naveed Rafique was disallowed to appear in the viva exam of the Islamic Studies. The exam superintendent did not allow Naveed to sit for the exam because he had not done “wuzu” or cleaning ritual carried out before Islamic prayers.
The exam superintendent told Naveed that he can not recite the verses from Islamic holy book because he had not done wuzu. Naveed was instructed that in order to appear for the viva exam of the Islamic Studies, he needs to perform wuzu. However, the Christian teenager did not know how to perform wuzu; for that reason, he was not allowed to take the viva exam. Accordingly, Naveed failed to secure passing marks, although he was a position holder and had a brilliant past record in previous classes.
Professor Anjum James Paul- Head of Pakistan Minorities Teachers’ Association (PMTA) wrote a letter to Chief Justice of Pakistan- Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali, on April 22. Below is an excerpt from the letter:
Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali
Supreme Court of Pakistan
Subject: NON-MUSLIM STUDENTS FACE VICTIMIZATION AND RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION IN THE EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM OF PAKISTAN
Greetings and peace from Pakistan Minorities Teachers’ Association (PMTA). PMTA would like to draw your kind attention on the subject cited above. Pakistani non-Muslim students are facing victimization and religious persecution in the educational system of Pakistan. The most recent example is of a Christian student Mr. Naveed Rafique s/o Rafique Maseeh, a student of grade 8 who has been declared failed in the examinations of Punjab Examination Commission held in 2016. He appeared in the examination under Roll No.68-426-220 in district Faisalabad, Punjab. In the oral examination of Islamiyat (Islamic Studies) the examiner told him at the spot, “You are failed as you have not recited Kalimah.” Naveed Rafique said, “I am Christian and I do not know the Islamic Kalimah.” The honorable examiner deliberately attempted to have forced conversion of Naveed Rafique violating Article 22 (1) of the Constitution of Pakistan and when he could not achieve his purpose he failed the mentioned candidate. Mr. Naveed Rafique could lose his Christian belief after recitation of Kalimah. The one who recites Kalimah leaves his/her previous religion and embraces Islam.
Reference; General Knowledge for Grade 1, Published by Punjab Curriculum And Textbook Board Lahore, edition January 2016, chapter 6, page 11
Government of Pakistan has already planned to provide compulsory Quranic education to all students of the public sector schools. A statement of honorable Mr. Baligh ur Rehman, State Minister for Federal Education has been published in the ‘Daily Nai Baat’ on April 21, 2016. The Honorable State Minister has said during a program organized by Alhuda International School in Islamabad that after consultation with the Conference of Inter-provincial Education Ministers there has been implementation of the compulsory Quranic education in all the public sector schools in Pakistan. There will be Nazra (recitation) from grade 1 to grade 5 while from grade 6 to grade 10 students will completely receive the Quranic education with translation.
Pakistan is a multi-religious country and there is diversity of religions in the classroom. Sir, Federal and Provincial Textbook Boards of Pakistan are openly violating Article 20 (a), Article 22 (1), Article 25 (1) and Article 36 of the Constitution of Pakistan and Article 26 (2 & 3) of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 2 (2) and Article 14 (1) of International Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 18 (2 & 4) of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 5 (2) of Declaration On The Elimination Of All Forms Of Intolerance And Of Discrimination Based On Religion Or Belief, UNESCO and June 19, 2014 Verdict of Supreme Court of Pakistan regarding protection of minorities rights. Public sector educational institutions/environment in Pakistan is deliberately attempting /persuading to convert the religions of all Pakistani non-Muslim students because they have become religious centers of the dominant religion of Pakistan. They are not ready to accept the religious identity of non-Muslim students at any cost. They are forced to study Islamic beliefs and practices in the subjects of languages, social sciences, pure sciences and Islamic Studies from school education to higher education.
Sir, it is requested you to kindly order the government of Pakistan to stop preaching of Islam to non-Muslim students through textbooks and educational environment. Non-Muslim students must also be treated according to Article 25 (1) of the Constitution of Pakistan. The beauty of our motherland is in diversity and if non-Muslims lose their remaining religious identity then ultimately changes will have to be made like exclusion of extract of the Father of the Nation on equal citizenship that he delivered on August 11, 1947, role of non-Muslims in the creation and construction of Pakistan, Article 36 of the Constitution of Pakistan regarding protection of minorities, abolishing Federal Ministry of Interfaith Harmony, provincial ministries of Minorities Affairs, reserved seats of non-Muslims in the parliament and provincial assemblies. If there are no more non-Muslims then how can interfaith harmony be promoted? And how will be cake cutting ceremonies organized which are symbol of respecting the beliefs of non-Muslims? It is further requested you to take notice of the case of Naveed Rafique so that there may not be loss of his studies as the new session has already commenced. We have again contacted the concerned quarters in Faisalabad yesterday on April 21, 2016, we were told that inquiry has been completed and they will inform us about the decision. PMTA and Naveed Rafique’s family requests you for justice.
With best regards.
PROF. ANJUM JAMES PAUL
PAKISTAN MINORITIES’ TEACHERS ASSOCIATION (PMTA)