School textbooks in Pakistan portray Christians as “violent and tyrannical”- report

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Pakistani children

School textbooks in Pakistan portray Christians as “violent and tyrannical”- report

According to a recent report, sponsored by United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, the textbooks being used in Pakistani schools depict Christians as “colonial oppressors.” The report was titled, Teaching Intolerance in Pakistan: Religious Bias in Public School Textbooks.

This study which was backed by the USCIRF further airs a gloomy state of affairs, in Pakistan where owing to the content of the textbooks, a general impression of a tyranny is associated with Christians which is resulting in “deeply troubling” intolerant attitude towards Christians in Pakistan.

While explaining the findings of the study, Robert George- Chairman of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) says, “Pakistan’s public school textbooks contain deeply troubling content that portrays non-Muslim citizens as outsiders, unpatriotic, and inferior; are filled with errors; and present widely-disputed historical ‘facts’ as settled history.”

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The study, Teaching Intolerance in Pakistan: Religious Bias in Public School Textbooks further evaluated several teaching materials being used by the institutes and teachers in the country. Further the study weighed up the hate content against religious minorities or content based on biased assumptions.

“Missing from these textbooks are any references to the rights of religious minorities and their positive contributions to Pakistan’s development. These textbooks sadly reflect the alarming state today of religious freedom in Pakistan. A country’s education system, including its textbooks, should promote religious tolerance, not close the door to cooperation and coexistence,” said Robert George.

According to this report, “the public school system is still fundamentally intolerant of religious minorities.” Moreover, the textbooks’ content gives an impression that “Christians learned tolerance and kind heartedness from Muslims.” Further, there is content portraying Hindus as conspirators against Muslims. Stories of “Hindus’ conspiracies towards Muslims” can easily be found in the textbooks.

Further, the study also analyzed the attitudes; Christian children have to bear at schools, colleges and universities in Pakistan. “Public shaming begins at a very young age,” the report found. The curriculum is further infested with content that religious minorities; Christians and Hindus in particular are “nefarious, violent, and tyrannical by nature.”

Additionally, the current textbooks being used in schools were compared to the ones evaluated 2011 study of USCIRF, titled: Connecting the Dots: Education and Religious Discrimination in Pakistan. Nonetheless, some of the passages which were identified as “biased” in the 2011 study, were removed, although, several new prejudiced and insulting passages had been added.

Seeing the situation, USCIRF has recommended that the US State Department should designate Pakistan as a “country of particular concern” as under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998; owing to its “systematic, ongoing and egregious” defiance of religious freedom.

Additionally it was recommended that the textbooks should contain content which portrays religious freedom as a constitutional right of each and every citizen of Pakistan. The textbooks should be used as a medium to promote concept of peaceful co-existence, the study recommended.