Critics Blast Norwegian Aid to 'Koran Schools' in Pakistan

September 25, 2007

Author: Nina Berglund

Source: Aftenposten

Norway's Foreign Ministry has been sending financial aid to controversial religious schools in Pakistan. Researchers and local Pakistani experts want it to stop, as does a conservative politician.

As much as NOK 6 million (more than USD 1 million) has gone to 118 so-called "Koran schools" in northwest Pakistan. Some local experts, however, fear Norway risks supporting fundamentalist groups because it makes no demands on the schools' curriculum.

Karin Ask, a researcher at the Christian Michelsen Institute, told newspaper Dagsavisen that Norway could wind up even supporting jihadists, those encouraging holy war.

The research institution International Crisis Group (ICG) also worries about any "uncritical" support of the schools, claiming that they mount a "considerable danger" to international security.