Christian students being pressured to convert to Islam in Pakistan

Allegations that Pakistani Christian students are being pressured into converting to Islam have prompted the Punjab government to launch an investigation into the matter.

Last year, Pakistani Christian leaders filed a petition with the Supreme Court to put an end to discrimination against minorities in the education sector. Earlier this year, the Pakistan Minorities Teachers' Association (PMTA) urged the Chief Justice of Pakistan to launch an inquiry into victimization and religious persecution of non-Muslim students, Christian Today reports.

Students attend class at the Musa Neka Public School in Wana, the main town in Pakistan's South Waziristan tribal region bordering Afghanistan. November 28, 2012. | Reuters/Faisal Mahmood

In response to the association's call, the Punjab government sent PMTA chairman Prof. Anjum James Paul a letter promising to investigate the issue. In the letter sent to the government in April, Paul cited the example of eighth-grade Pakistani Christian student Naveed Rafique who failed in an examination after refusing to recite the Islamic statement of faith, Christians in Pakistan details.

In an interview with Christians in Pakistan, Rafique said he was unable to recite the Islamic "Kalimah" because he is a Christian and he does not know it. The association also said the student was pressured to convert and noted that the mere recitation of the Kalimah is considered an act of embracing Islam.

The organization reports that state schools in the country are deliberately trying to convince non-Muslim students to embrace Islam. In the letter to the Punjab government, the association said the identities of non-Muslim students are not accepted in these schools.

"They are not ready to accept the religious identity of non-Muslim students at any cost," the association said in the letter. "They are forced to study Islamic beliefs and practices in the subjects of languages, social sciences, pure sciences and Islamic Studies from school education to higher education."

For Peter Jacob, a Catholic official with the Centre for Social Justice, informing the Supreme Court about the plight of religious minorities in Pakistan is very important. He said religious discrimination in the education system should be given emphasis.

Inside Christian Daily