Canada Reluctant to Support Afghan Islamic Schools

March 20, 2008

Author: Murray Brewster

Source: The Canadian Press/The Gazette

Canada plans to build as many as 50 schools in Kandahar province over the next few years, but is hedging on whether it supports a controversial Afghan program to construct a handful of madrassas - schools of Islamic education.

Canadian officials on the ground - both civilian and military - have been quietly pushing Ottawa over the last year to encourage the development of moderate madrassas as long-term strategy to fight extremism.

However Arif Lalani, the Canadian ambassador in Kabul, would only say that the bulk of Ottawa's $60 million contribution toward building the Afghan education system will go to secular, public schools.