India’s Assam state passes law to abolish madrasas

The government plans to transform Islamic schools into regular ones but opposition politicians say the move is an attack on Muslims.

Schools in Indian state Assam reopen after a seven-month long closure due to Covid-19 outbreak, Assam, India, November 2, 2020.
(AA)

An Indian state ruled by
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist party has passed a law abolishing all Islamic schools, saying
they provided substandard education.

Opposition politicians criticised the move and said it
reflected the government’s anti-Muslim attitude in the
Hindu-majority country.

More than 700 of the schools, known as madrasas, in
northeastern Assam will be shut by April, the state’s education
minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told the local assembly.

“We need more doctors, police officers, bureaucrats, and teachers, from the minority Muslim community rather than Imams for mosques,” said Sarma, a rising star in Modi’s Bharatiya
Janata Party (BJP).

The government would convert them to regular schools as
education provided in the madrasas could not prepare anyone for
“the temporal world and its earthly concerns”, he said.

“The idea is to wipe out Muslims,” said Wajed Ali Choudhury,
a lawmaker from the opposition Congress party.

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‘Love Jihad’ laws

Last month, Uttar Pradesh state became the first Indian province to pass a law against forced or fraudulent religious conversions, laying out prison terms for anyone compelling others to convert their faith or luring them into these conversions through marriage.

The anti-conversion law does not name any religion but critics call it anti-Islam for being solely imposed with the objective of preventing “Love Jihad,” which hardline Hindu groups describe as a conspiracy to convert gullible Hindu women to Islam by misleading them with promises of love and marriage.

The BJP-led government in Madhya Pradesh has also said that it is proposing a jail term of 10 years for anyone found guilty of using marriage to force someone to change religion.

At least four other Indian states, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Karnataka and Assam have said that they are planning to bring in similar anti-conversion laws.

More than 100 retired senior civil servants and diplomats on Tuesday urged the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh to repeal the new law, which is seen as aimed against Muslims.

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies

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