While Muslim women generally lag behind in education everywhere, they are also violently prevented from undertaking education where Islamists gain power, such as in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Taliban blow up girls’ school in Pakistan

As per the Quran, hadith and sira, Taliban are the truest followers of Islam; hence their deeds reflect the purest form of Islam. A press report on March 6, 2011 said: “Taliban militants blew up a state-run girls' school in north-west Pakistan today, though there were no casualties in the attack. The militants blew up the girls' primary school at Kalo Banda Shawa in Swabi district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province with explosives laid around the building, sources said. The Taliban, who are opposed to the education of girls, have destroyed hundreds of schools in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province and the adjoining tribal belt over the past three years.” As Taliban represent the purest form of Islam, one should conclude that the pure Islam is against educating its women.

About the Taliban, BBC said on October 1, 2010: “Recent years have seen the re-emergence of the hardline Islamic Taliban movement as a fighting force in Afghanistan and a major threat to its government. They are also threatening to destabilize Pakistan, where they control areas in the north-west and are blamed for a wave of suicide bombings and other attacks. The Taliban emerged in the early 1990s in northern Pakistan following the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan. A predominantly Pashtun movement, the Taliban came to prominence in Afghanistan in the autumn of 1994.”

The report also said, “It is commonly believed that they first appeared in religious seminaries - mostly paid for by money from Saudi Arabia - which preached a hard line form of Sunni Islam. The Taliban's promise - in Pashtu speaking areas straddling Pakistan and Afghanistan - was to restore peace and security and enforce their own austere version of Sharia, or Islamic law, once in power. In both countries they introduced or supported Islamic punishments - such as public executions of convicted murderers and adulterers and amputations of those found guilty of theft. Men were required to grow beards and women had to wear the all-covering burqa. The Taliban showed a similar disdain for television, music and cinema and disapproved of girls aged 10 and over from going to school.”

Though Pakistan has repeatedly denied that it is the architect of the Taliban enterprise, many Afghans, who initially joined the movement, were educated in madrassas (religious schools) in Pakistan. Thus, the Taliban virus originated in Pakistani madrassas.

Pakistan was also one of only three countries, along with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which recognized the Taliban when they ruled Afghanistan (mid-1990s to 2001). It was also the last country to break diplomatic ties with the Taliban. But Pakistan has since adopted a harder line against Taliban militants for carrying out attacks on its soil.

In recent years, the Taliban have re-emerged in Afghanistan and grown far stronger in Pakistan, where observers say there is loose co-ordination between different Taliban factions and militant groups. The main Pakistani faction is led by Hakimullah Mehsud, whose Tehrik Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is blamed for numerous suicide bombings and other attacks.

Taliban treatment of women

When the Taliban were in power in Afghanistan, women were forced to wear burqa in public, because"the face of a woman is a source of corruption" for men not related to them, says a Taliban spokesman. They were not allowed to study after the age of eight, and until then were permitted only to study the Qur'an. They were also banned from working. Women, who wanted an education, had to attend underground schools, where they and their teachers risked execution if caught. When a Taliban raid discovered a woman running an informal school in her apartment, they beat the children and threw the woman down a flight of stairs (breaking her leg), and then imprisoned her. They threatened to stone her family publicly, if she refused to sign a declaration of loyalty to the Taliban and their laws.

As a result on closing girls’ schools, colleges and the female employment ban was felt greatly in the education system in Afghanistan. Within Kabul alone the ruling affected 106,256 girls, 148,223 boys and 8,000 female university undergraduates. About 7,793 female teachers were dismissed, a move that crippled the provision of education and caused 63 schools to close due to a sudden lack of educators. Some women ran clandestine schools within their homes for local children, or for other women under the guise of sewing classes, such as the Golden Needle Sewing School. The learners, parents and educators were aware of the consequences should the Taliban discover their activities, but for those who felt trapped under the strict Taliban rule, such actions allowed them a sense of self-determination and hope.

Afghan women wearing the burqa during Taliban regime

Schoolgirls, women, teachers and schools have been and continue to be attacked by arsonists in acid attacks by Taliban members. Unicef said there were 236 school-related attacks in Afghanistan in 2007. In August 2010, it was revealed through blood tests that a mysterious series of cases of mass sickness at girls’ schools across the country over the last two years were caused by a powerful poison gas.

Taliban kill female teachers

A report on December 10, 2006 said, Taliban militants broke into a house where two teachers lived and shot dead five family members in Ghwando, eastern Afghanistan, bringing the total number of educators killed in attacks to 20 in the year. Amongst the killed were a grandmother, a mother and two daughters, who were teachers. A 20-year-old grandson was also killed. The two sisters had been warned in an earlier letter from the Taliban to quit teaching, said Gulam Ullah Wekar, the provincial education director. The letter warned the women that it was against Islam for them to teach, and if they continue they would “end up facing the penalty.”

Brother kills sister for receiving education

Hardline Muslims consider Girls’ education a shame for the family. According to a press report on January 20, 2007, a brother in Pakistan killed his 22-year-old sister Nahida for educating her and doing a job at Rawalpindi. She dreamt of becoming a school teacher. When she came to her village to see her mother and other relatives, she was shot by her Gul Shahjad, a fruit vendor and she died on the spot.

She is said to have been repeatedly advised her kins many times to mend her ways, but she paid no heed to it; so her brother adopted the extreme step. After killing his sister cried out, “I have punished her for her sins and I do not repent for her death”. One should notice the power of Islamic brainwashing that motivates a brother to kill his own younger sister.

On August 6, 2000, Kulsooma, a ninth-grade student from Srinagar, Kashmir, was going for tuition with her cousin Fauzia. On the way, 4 boys appeared from nowhere and threw a bottle of acid on Kulsooma’s face [3] “These were the times when Kashmir was gripped by fear as the Lashkar-e-Jabbar, a lesser known militant group which, with the support of Kashmir’s only woman militant organization Dukhtaran-e-Millat was enforcing the Muslim dress code – veils, covered head and no cosmetics. Kashmiri women and girls were asked to quit studies and stay at home”, says Ms Suri.

“An attempt to talibanise education in Kashmir was started in 1991-92, when the Allah Tigers and the Dukhtaran-e-Millat had issued diktats on the dress code. The Lashkar-e-Jabbar cadres had also thrown acid on Gazala and Rubia, the teachers of government schools, for not wearing veil and for wearing make-up. The incident took place at Rangers’ Stop near Khanyar in Srinagar”, adds the Statesman story.

Taliban’s war against girls’ schools

In her article Taliban Wages War on Afghan Girls School, Ms Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson says, “The re-emergence of the Taliban is threatening one of Afghanistan's greatest achievements in the post-Taliban era: education. Female students, whom the Taliban denounces as un-Islamic, are at greatest risk. Their teachers are kidnapped and killed. Their classrooms are torched. Their parents are threatened. In the southern Afghan province of Helmand, the Taliban is waging war not only on foreign and Afghan troops, but on education. Of 224 schools that opened after the Taliban fell, at least 90 have been forced to close because of threats and attack — especially schools that teach girls."

The only remaining schools for girls are in the provincial capital Lashkargah, where the principal of one school, Jamila Niazi, says she endures repeated threats to her life. But the girls and teachers keep coming — 6,000 of them to Niazi's school alone — saying it's worth the risk. District schools supervisor Sayed Gol says that intimidation and threats remain rare in Lashkargah. But he says he fears that may not last long. He complains that so far, NATO's month-old Operation Achilles has caused more schools to close, due to the fighting, but also because the Taliban returns to villages and towns after Western and Afghan troops leave. "We are unhappy with this campaign," Gol says. "It's had no effect other than to make things worse", he adds.

Pakistan Sunni Islamists attack females for studying

Schoolgirls in Pakistan face daily threats for attending schools. Pakistan is currently in crisis, because many parts of this nation are out of control, and central forces can do little to stem the tide of Islamic hatred. Given this reality, the Taliban and other radical Muslim organizations have warned young girls from obtaining education. This policy is not related to the government of Pakistan, but the government must be held accountable for not protecting female students and female teachers. Instead this barbaric policy is being introduced by radical Sunni Islamic forces who desire to rule by fear. Attacks which began to increase in 2009 have continued in 2010 and schools have been bombed by pro-Taliban forces. [5]

“It is necessary for the liberals’ in the West to do something and not to excuse every crime committed by these fanatics. We hear so much about Guantanamo Bay but what about the dark forces of radical Sunni Islam in Pakistan? Why don’t we get more information about this global reality? What about informing people about the brutal ideology of radical Sunni Islam? It is not expected from them to remain silent about persecution of women, killing homosexuals, killing converts from Islam, stoning people to death for adultery, closing female schools, killing teachers who teach females, and many other barbaric and draconian measures”, says a political observer.

It is needless to say Islamic radicalism is raging in parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan, which supports destroying schools, which teaches hatred to the female students, killing teachers who teach young girls, and other brutal methods in order to rule by fear. This is being done in the name of Islam and this barbaric way of thinking appears to be gaining ground. At the same time, threatens the minorities Ahmadiyya Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, and others. This mindset somehow appears to be growing in parts of Pakistan and the fundings from Saudi Arabia and other draconian nations is enabling this.

But to followers of this radical Sunni Islamic ideology, killing of innocents and ruling by fear is a divine right. In their eyes, it is right to humiliate and persecute women, Shia Muslims, Ahmadiyya Muslims, Christians, Hindus, and Sikhs; kill converts, who leave Islam; to chop hands and feet off for minor crimes; to stone women to death for adultery, and so forth. “This ideology is more or less similar to Nazism, it is about the destruction of all alternative thought patterns and it is based on ruling by fear.”

With liberal democratic governments of the West and elsewhere having little political desire to intervene, the problem will be left unchallenged, and females and their freedom and education would be the first victim.

But the moot question – Why these Islamists are hell bent on against educating their women folk? We shall try to explain in the next article.



[1] http://www.thestatesman.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=361350&catid=37

[2] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-11451718

[3] Valley of Fear, The Statesman, June 2, 2005.

[4] http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=9396748

[5] http://www.faithfreedom.org/articles/op-ed/pakistan-sunni-islamists-attack-females-for-studying/

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