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Riz Khan
Madrassa reform in Pakistan
What role do Pakistan's religious schools play in creating the Taliban fighters of tomorrow?
Last Modified: 10 Jan 2010 14:29 GMT



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What role do Pakistan's madrassas play in creating the Taliban fighters of tomorrow?

From the Middle Ages through to the 16th century, such religious schools were considered the bastion of Islamic higher education, making breakthroughs in mathematics, science and the humanities.

But today, madrassas have been labelled by the West as "incubators of violent extremism" and institutions that breed future terrorists.

More than ever before, attendance at madrassas is increasing, as many Pakistanis see religious schools as a better - and free - educational alternative to inadequate public schools.

Although the US government and aid groups have been working to improve secular schools, some say not enough is being done to assist religious ones. At the same time, negative Western perceptions of the madrassa system have created a schism in US-Muslim relations.

So how much do madrassas contribute to Islamic extremism, and what should be done to reform religious education in Pakistan?

Joining us to discuss this topic is Azhar Hussain, the vice-president for Preventive Diplomacy at the International Centre for Religion and Diplomacy, and Qamar-ul Huda, a senior programme officer for Religion and Peacemaking at the United States Institute of Peace.

This episode of the Riz Khan show aired from Wednesday, December 23.

Source:
Al Jazeera
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