Most people around the world regard schooling their children as an exercise in developing literate, numerate, informed, useful members of society. In Pakistan, however, they see it differently.
There is no free public schooling in Pakistan (nor in India, although pressure is on that country to fund universal education – the attitude of first-world nations being, “You want to call yourself a powerful country, educate all your children, for free, no matter their caste or religion”), and girls are frequently taught at home. Because the state fails to educate them, Pakistani boys who come from poor families often end up at madrassas, schools set up and run by mosques and other Islamic-based organizations. They charge small fees, if any. Many boys attend madrassas at no charge.
What they learn there varies. A few madrassas actually teach boys to read and write and do arithmetic. A great many simply have boys reciting the Koran in Arabic day in and day out – a language, by the way, entirely foreign to them, as Latin would be to most American schoolboys. Many madrassas are covers, camouflage for Islamist terror organizations that teach boys how to kill and wage jihad.
And some, apparently, are torture chambers.
With a tip-off from an anonymous citizen, the Pakistani police recently raided a madrasa in Karachi, the nation’s largest city. What they found there, in a cellar underneath an outdoor teaching area, were boys and young men who had been locked up in the darkness, often in chains, for weeks. They were rarely fed, but often beaten. The police were appalled at their injuries — Pakistani police, accustomed to the routine use of beatings and torture to the suspects they arrest, who may be totally innocent of the alleged crimes.
A handful of boys were under ten years old.
Why were they treated so cruelly? They didn’t study enough. They objected to the madrassa’s methods. They talked back.
Among the young men, some were brought there by fathers in order that the madrassa teacher/torturers would “cure” them of drug addiction or talking back. They fathers even paid the madrassa to do this. The cure? To be clapped in chains, beaten, and left in the dark with the others – one room held more than twenty men and boys.
The horror of this supposed school will remain with the victims forever. Of the torturers, only one has been found and arrested. The others fled.
Naturally, Western nations are speaking out against this atrocity. As one commentator noted, however, so far there is only silence from Muslim nations and, indeed, moderate Muslims of all nationalities.
If members of a faith are so frightened of the consequences of criticizing fellow adherents’ hiding behind a book in order to practice cruelty, to treat others as they would never want to be treated, to be as sadistic as prison camp guards – then they ought to ask themselves why they cower in fear. Why don’t they stand up for others in pain? Why support with silence these men whom you wouldn’t want as neighbors?
Just because they’re fellow religionists doesn’t mean they deserve your support.
Churches have always been fine places for the evil-minded to disguise themselves. So are mosques and madrassas.