Textbook Reforms A Challenge in Many Parts of Islamic World

December 1, 2005

Source: Portsmouth Herald

Wire Service: AP


On December 1, 2005 the Associated Press reported, "Page after page, the self-appointed hate hunters underline passages in Pakistani school books. They flag hard-edged Muslim views toward other faiths such as describing past efforts by Hindus and Christians to 'erase' Muslims. Or [they] note sections that speak of martyrdom, and the duty to battle perceived religious enemies. 'We are fighting for the future of Islam. Children are sometimes being force-fed a diet of hate, anger and intolerance,' said Ahmad Salim, leader of a campaign to push Pakistan’s education establishment to remove what activists consider extreme language and images from the curriculum. Salim’s group, the Sustainable Development Policy Institute, issued a report two years ago calling for broad revisions. Next month, it plans to release an updated review of all Pakistan’s text books that reprimands authorities for failing to make serious changes. It will be the latest example of widening appeals for textbook reform across the Islamic world. Barely a whisper just a few years ago, the demands have begun to draw attention at the highest levels. Educators and activists argue that current battles against Islamic extremism are only superficial without deep revisions of school books - similar to efforts to purge Balkan lessons of ethnic slurs following the wars of the 1990s."