ASIA/PAKISTAN - Christian students discriminated at University because they "do not learn the Koran"

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Islamabad (Agenzia Fides) - Christian students who participate in examinations for admission in public universities are discriminated against and disadvantaged because "they do not know the Koran by heart": this is the complaint sent to Fides by the National Commission "Justice and Peace" of the Bishops of Pakistan . The Commission has submitted a formal complaint to the High Court of Lahore against the government, asking that, in public competitions, indications or requirements regarding the Islamic religion as "the study of the Koran" are not included.
The case arose because a Christian student, Aroon Arif, scored a very high entrance exam at the Faculty of Medicine at the State University of Sciences in Lahore (he successfully obtained 930 points out of 1100 and 860 out of 1100), but failed to enter only because competitors scored 20 more points due to the test concerning the "knowledge of the Koran."
According to the Commission and the various leaders heard by the Court, "this practice is discriminatory and violates the Constitution of Pakistan." "We firmly believe that raising children in religion is the responsibility of parents or relatives, rather than a public university, which should give access to any student, apart from his/her religious faith," said His Exc. Mgr. Alexander John Malik, Protestant Bishop of Lahore, of the "Church of Pakistan." The Bishop proposed that, in the current system, even the Christian churches can give, based on the principle of equality, "20 extra points to Christian students." Another solution, proposed by some local political leaders, is to give Christian students 20 extra points thanks to a computer science exam.
The important issue is to end the "institutionalized discrimination on the basis of religion," notes the Commission "Justice and Peace", "removing references and prejudices concerning religion from the state education curriculum, which should focus on universal human values". The Lahore High Court considered the appeal in January and is expected to issue a verdict soon. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 15/2/2012)