India’s BJP State Bans All Islamic School

Freemuslim’s Inclusion Forum condemns India’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) new law and asks India to take advantage of the diversity in India instead of isolating religious groups. India’s northeastern state of Assam has passed a law abolishing state-run Islamic schools, ahead of local elections next year. The bill was tabled by the state government led by prime minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist party, the BJP, and passed on Wednesday amid strong protest from opposition parties. Assam’s education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, a BJP leader who introduced the bill, said: “We have introduced a Bill whereby all madrasas will be converted into institutes of general education and no madrasa will be established by the government in future. We are happy to introduce this Bill to bring truly secular curriculum in education system. ‘We need more doctors, police officers, bureaucrats, and teachers from the minority Muslim community, rather than imams for mosques’ says education minister. Opposition parties criticized the move and said it reflected the government’s anti-Muslim attitude. The Congress party and the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) walked out of the assembly after their demand to send the legislation to a select committee for consultations was rejected.

“The idea is to wipe out Muslims,” said Wajed Ali Choudhury, a Congress party politician. The new law impacts more than 700 schools that will be forced to shut or convert by April, according to Mr Sarma’s statement in the local assembly. The state spends over Rs 2.6bn (£26m) on religious institutions including Islamic schools and Sanskrit learning centers. The government earlier said it would convert 97 state-run Sanskrit “tols” into study centers of Indian history and ancient Indian culture, however media reports noted that the new bill makes no mention of the Sanskrit centers. The law is the latest brought by a regional branch of the BJP that has been accused of unfairly targeting Muslims.

Freemuslim suggests integration of religious teachings alongside with educational curriculum in Islamic schools or an option in public schools which allows Muslim children to choose “Islamic Faith” so they can have both education together. Isolation of Madrasas is not a solution to a problem which does exist. There has been many cases where teachers at Madrasas have diverted from teaching Quran to children and unfortunately motivated children to carry acts of violence. Those religious leaders need to be recognized and prosecuted for advocating for violence instead of tolerance. Disagreement about religious teachings and choice of religion does not give permission to kill someone or terrorize a crowd of people. Islam teaches peaceful coexistence according to direct verse from Quran : “O humanity! Indeed, We created you from a male and a female, and made you into peoples and tribes so that you may ˹get to˺ know one another. Surely the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous among you. Allah is truly All-Knowing, All-Aware.” Quran 49:13.

We condemn those religious scholars who misused the purity of religious teachings to advocate for their own personal agendas and may have recruited young adults for terrorist groups. We also condemn India’s decision to isolate and outcast Muslims by passing laws like this. We urge the India government to open doors of dialogue with its Muslim population and allow for religious schools to become more integrated with the public school system so children have both education alongside each other.