5 December, 2005

pakistan madrasa exodus

As relatively low tuition is maintained for nationals, Canadian universities have traditionally welcomed foreign students, who pay higher fees, as a source of funding. If similar pricing policies hold true in Islamic training schools, it seems that Indian madrasas could benefit from a Pakistan move to deny foreign students to that country’s madrasas.:

After the July 7th bombings in London, the Pakistani government was “persuaded” to adopt a policy that denies entry to all foreign students who wish to enroll in its madrasas. That decision however, does not include expeling current foreign students (including western students). For those people that don’t know, many of Pakistan’s madrasas are where future terrorists learn Islamofacism 101. They are analogous to the stagnant ponds that result in a swarm of deadly mosquitos flying forth. However, many of Pakistan’s clerics don’t like this new policy. Why? Free-market principles result in those foreign students that are denied entry to Pakistan, heading across the border for schooling in India. Mid-day.com reports:

Madrasa This seems to be a classic case of neighbour’s envy. Muslim clerics in Pakistan are miffed over its government’s recent decision which denies entry to foreign students coming to Pakistan’s seminaries, better known as madrasas, for training. What has particularly irked the clerics is that these students are now looking across the border and enrolling themselves in Indian madrasas for their religious training.

“Denying entry to foreign students in our seminaries and allowing them to get admissions in Indian seminaries will certainly improve India’s overall image in the Muslim world at the cost of Pakistan’s reputation,” says Hanif Jalandhari, head of the Wafaq-ul-Madaris al-Arabia, largest among the five Wafaq boards that have sole control of over 9,000 seminaries across Pakistan.

That quote would be funny if that cleric wasn’t serious. Is he actually suggesting that Pakistan’s madrasas have a good reputation? I honestly have no idea how India’s madrasas compare, but they MUST compare favorably. Some foreign students currently enrolled in the madrasas believe that the Pakistani government will relax its rules once international attention on the London bombings fades. Some of these students are simply extending their Visas, betting on a reversal.

AsiaPundit notes that it is only a minority of Pakistan madrasas that are de facto terrorist training camps, but it is common knowledge that some of them are. One study notes that 15%, a minority but still a sizable number, preach violent jihad.

One of the problems that nations such as Pakistan and Indonesia have is an unwillingness to acknowledge that there there are schisms in contemporary Islam that extend well beyond the Sunni/Shia split. ‘Moderate’ Muslims in will often reject the term ‘moderate’ and insist that all Muslims are brothers. Because politicians are afraid of offending the pious, the authorities refuse to crack down on truly dangerous institutions.

Beyond that, one of the biggest problems with the madrasas, as many of my Arab friends used to relate to me during my time in the Middle East, is that they simply create hordes of unemployable men who are trained at nothing except Koranic verse. The International Crisis group suggests that this is the case in Pakistan.

If the Indian madrasas are less radical and even slightly better at providing foreign students with employable skills than their Pakistani counterparts, then this exodus may not be a bad thing.

That is, of course, so long as none of the newly admitted foreign students blow themselves up in Mumbai.

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by @ 11:47 pm. Filed under Pakistan, India, Asia, Terrorism

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