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“Carte blanche” for madrassahs of extremism
 11 November, 2006

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29 August, 2006
“Carte blanche” for madrassahs of extremism

Contrary to advice that calls for more checks and modernization of the curricula of Koranic schools, sometimes breeding ground for Islamic militants, Dhaka will confer diplomas equal to those of other private and state schools.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) – The government of Bangladesh continues to cede to pressure exerted by Islamic extremism that is becoming increasingly heavy in the lead-up to elections next year. The political alliance led by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party of the controversial the Minister Khaleda Zia, has now decided to give official recognition to the Qawami Madrassah (Koranic school) certificate. 

 It was the prime minister himself who made the announcement at a meeting with leaders of different Islamist organisations.  "After an overall review, the government has decided to offer equivalent status of MA degree (Islamic Studies/Arabic Literature) to the 'Dawra' degree of Qawami Madrassahs.”

Zia said he hoped students of these madrassahs would soon obtain deserved recognition of their studies with the cooperation of all and make the desired contribution to building the country.  The premier said the final step would be recognition of the “Fazil” diploma as a graduate course and the “Kamil” courses of the Alia Madrassah as a Masters degree.

Islamic radicals have long been demanding official recognition of age-old religious schools known as Qawami, but intelligence agencies claim they have been used to recruit and train new conscripts for terrorism and extremism.

The government decision follows agitation by several Islamic parties like the Islami Oikya Jote, a member of the government coalition. In all likelihood, the aim is to garner consensus in view of the general elections slated for next year.

Fundamentalists are cranking up pressure exerted on the central power base – a trend already noted by AsiaNews last year – in several civil sectors, chief among them that of education. The trend hides dangerous implications. Local analysts say the Qawami need legal recognition but “they refuse all administrative checks and monitoring of the curricula taught to students. Dhaka is thus giving these schools carte blanche to teach whatever they like how they like, and then they confer degrees exactly like those of state schools or private universities, which are subject to government controls!”

The provision goes in the opposite direction to that suggested by security experts, who called for more control over the activities and funds of the Qawami madrassahs after a wave of coordinated bomb blasts went off across Bangladesh on 17 August 2005. The most radical Koranic schools are funded by Saudi Arabia and conservative Islamic governments that want to lead Bengalese Islam back to orthodoxy.

Although analysts cannot give precise time frames, they say when the fruit of this education surfaces, the world could be faced with around 20 million youth formed in the fundamentalism of Koranic schools.

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See also
09/2/2005 BANGLADESH - Government probes Islamic NGO funding
10/31/2006 PAKISTAN - Pakistan: popular protests erupt after madrassa attack
02/11/2005 BANGLADESH - People defend democracy against rise in Islamic ...
07/23/2005 BANGLADESH - Dhaka: Security checks outside churches
12/10/2005 BANGLADESH - Christmas vigils cancelled in Dhaka
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Asia News
“Carte blanche” for madrassahs of extremism