A FUTURE TORN APART – MUSLIM CHILDREN AND THEIR SCHOOLS

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The number of people killed in the world in a day at a time has become so much that it is normal news for us. We read or watch the news feel sad. We share or like these events on social media and then quietly go on to look for the next news. The news world has become a depressing place and we are always on the lookout for some good news.

When the news hits closer to home do we sit and take notice. This too depends on ‘how near’. If the news is about kidnappings or chain snatching or robbery in the neighborhood we lock our doors properly before we tuck ourselves to sleep. But if it an accident, maybe a couple of bike riders falling down at the turning just outside the apartment building where we live, it is not our problem. I don’t own a bike, I have a car. Or I ride safely.

Late As Usual

We never spring to action at the first signs of trouble, we wait for trouble to come knocking at our doors. That is the Indian way. Apologies to people who stitch their pyjamas in time and save nine.

So when we saw the news headlines that Israel was bombing hospitals and schools. We cursed Israel its people and the people who supported that state that had grown as a wart on the Palestine body and has grown to be a cancer bigger than Palestine. They are killing our kids, we said and when they bombed hospitals we realized that they did not want the survivors to be nursed back to good health either. The fact that the schools were being bombed into oblivion was news but just a part of the whole tragedy.

Destruction Around the World

In Iraq – the place where the only news that we get is from the very news networks we don’t trust – schools were the first casualties. “One million children living under the rule of Islamic State in Iraq have been denied a normal education,” Save The Children reported. Save The Children is a Christian organization, based out of UK dedicated to help children, affected by calamities including war. Save The Children has been helping children through makeshift schools in Mosul.

Who can forget the dazed boy who had been pulled out of the rubble in Syria. He became International news just like the more unfortunate children who died on the beach of Gaza and many more who drowned while running away from the war. “In war-torn Syria, three million children out of school or at risk of dropping out’ reported UNICEF.

Who thinks about education in a war torn place? Survival is more important. The same story plays out in Afghanistan. Malala Yusufzai is an example of how the education system is suffering because of fighting – for all the wrong reasons. “Afghanistan is one of the worst affected countries by violence against schools, with 670 incidents of ‘attacks on education’ in 2008,” says a source on Wikipedia. The Wikipedia page mentions how the education system was very well run with German and French support before the Soviet invasion and the current education problems are due to the Taliban.

“300 Afghan schools destroyed in weeks as Taliban attack education”, says a headline of an organization called The World At Large. The same headline is reflected on an Afghanistan based website RAWA. RAWA or the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan claims that it was “established in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 1977 as an independent political/social organization of Afghan women fighting for human rights”. The founders of the organization ‘were a number of Afghan woman intellectuals under the sagacious leadership of Meena who in 1987 was assassinated in Quetta, Pakistan, by Afghan agents of the then KGB in connivance with fundamentalist band of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar .’

Yet another news based website South Bend Tribune announces “Notre Dame partners with Afghan university”. Notre Dame is a Christian institution based in Indiana, USA.

Islam has unequivocally supported education for everybody – no discrimination based on gender or race. Any cleric of Islam, will point that out to you. Yet in Iraq and Afghanistan for some reason these very people who seek glory from the God of Islam are blamed on ‘destroying the education’ while western Christian philanthropists rush in to make things right.

Getting closer

Nearby in Myanmar, where the famous Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi Presides, Rohingya Muslims are being slaughtered and displaced by the thousands. There have been protests all over the world about them, but could only elicit a response which said a lot about the Noble Peace Prize Winner and her perspective. ‘Every nation has its human rights violation’ she said. In other words, if we are fighting for our rights we are victims, yet we do the same to others, it may be the right thing to do. This idea resonates from Israel who religiously commemorate the holocaust yet unleash unspeakable atrocities to the people who graciously accommodated them. In Myanmar, the irony of the violence is that the persecutors are Buddhists. People who we trust to know martial arts, but are very peaceful. Now we know nothing is as it seems. Since a whole set of people from a particular religion have been completely displaced, there is no schooling or education to talk about. As pointed out earlier people who are running from death do not have time to stop and teach their children about history and economics. The Rohingya Crises has been rightly called ‘ethnic cleansing’ by many observers.

One more step closer to home terrorists walk into a Pakistan school and start firing indiscriminately at the children studying there. A black day indeed for humanity and Muslims in particular who claim to be peaceful, yet kill children, whatever faction of Islam they may belong. Yet this happened in a predominantly Muslim Country by so called Muslim terrorists.

India

Back home NDTV recently reported that ‘unidentified arsonists’ have set fire to around 25 schools in the Kashmir valley in the last two months. The Times of India has reported ‘Pakistan firing forces shut 200 border schools in J&K’. Kashmir has been a boiling pot of controversies since a long time and according to the establishment it is the favourite entry point of terrorists into India. Though it is supposed to be the most heavily manned, the terrorists do not like to enter through Gujarat, Rajasthan and Punjab since the area there is probably not to their liking. The desert or people of other religion must make the difference.

As the government and opposition spar over the situation, the children of the valley have not been able to attend school for the past four months. Not long ago, children were in the news during the clashes of the citizens of the area and security forces, where children were found to be victims of deliberate pellet firing.

What is Actually Happening?

The story that obviously emerges is that Muslim children are being deliberated targeted to either be eliminated or be left to become illiterate  – maybe to be brainwashed later. Who? Why? Are questions nobody is going to answer because those who have the answers will not give them or if they do no one is going to believe them.

The point however, is that children are dying or finding themselves in situations where any help is welcome. And worse the problem that seemed to be happening far away, to someone else has come next door. The question for Muslims is when they will start addressing the situation and what will they do?

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