CM Punjab urged to inquire into the incident of a Christian student victimized of religious discrimination

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Professor Anjum James Paul, Chairman of Pakistan Minorities’ Teachers Association (PMTA) has written a letter to the Chief Minister of Punjab Shahbaz Sharif urging him to take action against the perpetrators of religious discrimination against a Christian student. A Christian student suffered academic loss as he was not allowed by the invigilator to take the Islamic Studies exam owing to which he failed.

Religious discrimination in Pakistan

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 cannot recite the verses from Islamic holy book because he had not done wuzu. The Christian lad was instructed to perform wuzu if we was to take the exam.

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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.

The content of Professor Anjum James Paul’ letter to the Chief Minister of Punjab dated May 10, is as below:

To
Mr. Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif
Chief Minister
Punjab

Subject: A CHRISTIAN STUDENT BECOMES VICTIM OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION IN THE PEC EXAMINATIONS 2016

Honorable Sir,

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. According to the recent research of PMTA on the textbooks published in 2016 by Punjab Curriculum And Textbook Board Lahore, non-Muslim students have also been considered Muslims because they are bond to study Islamic beliefs and practices in twelve different subjects of languages, social sciences, pure sciences and Islamic Studies in the school education from grade 1 to grade 10 violating Article 22 (1) of the Constitution of Pakistan that guarantees, “No person attending any educational institution shall be required to receive religious instruction, or take part in any religious ceremony, or attend religious worship, if such instruction, ceremony or worship relates to a religion other than his own.”

Christian, Hindu, Sikh, Bahai and Parsi students are facing religious persecution in the educational environment of public sector educational institutions which lack diversity and inclusiveness because religious identity of non-Muslims is not recognized. Mr. Naveed Rafique s/o Rafique Maseeh, a student of grade 8 has become a soft target of religious persecution. He has been declared failed in the examinations of Punjab Examination Commission (PEC) held in 2016. He appeared in the examination under Roll No.68-426-220 in district Faisalabad, Punjab. In the viva 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 examiner deliberately attempted to have forced conversion of Naveed Rafique violating religious freedom of the candidate and when the examiner could not achieve his purpose he failed the mentioned candidate without any reason. The biased examiner did not award the said candidate even zero mark and failed him. 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. There could be no way for him to leave Islam because there is death penalty for the one who leaves Islam. Note: The text of the Kalimah is (There is no God but Allah Almighty and Muhammad (Peace be upon him) is Messenger of Allah.).

PEC declared result forty days before on March 31, 2016. PMTA has requested on various forums against this persecution but in vain. EDO Education Faisalabad has failed to provide justice to the victim.

PMTA requests you to kindly provide justice to the victim so that he may continue his studies without any discrimination. It is further requested you to make prompt arrangements for the religious education of Christians and other non-Muslim students according to their beliefs and practices as it is in the case of Muslim students. Besides this non-Muslim students must not be preached the ideology of Islam at any level as it is in the case of Muslim students who are not preached ideology of any other religion.

With best regards.
Professor Anjum James Paul

Copies of this letter were forwarded Minister for Education (Schools Department) Government of the Punjab, Minister for Human Rights & Minorities Affairs, Government of the Punjab, and to the Secretary Education Schools (Department) Government of Punjab, Lahore.