End anti-Christian discrimination in education, Pakistan Catholic pleads

Leaders of Pakistan's Christians have petitioned the nation's Supreme Court to end discrimination against minorities in the education system. 

Peter Jacob, a Catholic who heads the Centre for Social Justice, said: "It is necessary to inform the Supreme Court of hate speech against religious minorities in Pakistan present in textbooks and highlight the discrimination in the education system."

A mob of Muslim men take part in a violence protest against Christians on the street in Gojra town in Pakistan's central Punjab province August 1, 2009. Six Christians, including four women, were burnt alive in clashes with majority Muslims in a town in central Pakistan over that weekend.Reuters

In June last year, the court asked the government to look into setting up a religious strategy for tolerance and this is also mentioned in the petition, according to Agenzia Fides. The petition states that provincial governments have failed to remove discrimination and religious prejudices from textbooks. It calls for the development of a better curriculum that will promote "a culture of religious and social tolerance in schools and universities".

The petitioners give examples of anti-Christian hate speech in the current textbooks. "The existence of such prejudices challenges the religious, civil and democratic values," it says. "Students belonging to religious minorities are required to learn the religious lessons of Islam and pass examinations that may conflict with their religious beliefs on the one hand and could affect their performance in the exams.

"It is also a form of coercion that students belonging to religious minorities cannot study their religion under the current education system."

The petition asks the court to identify and order "appropriate remedies for the protection of equal rights of religious minorities in the education system."