Christian Schoolgirl Who Refused to Study Islam Mocked, Ordered Out of Classroom by Muslim Teacher

May 24, 2017 11:20 AM EDT

A Christian girl studying at a school in Pakistan was told by her Muslim teacher that, if she refused to take a class in Islamic studies, she must leave. The teacher also ordered her Muslim students to avoid eating with the Christian girl because of her faith.

According to World Watch Monitor, Muqadas Sukhraj wanted to study Ethics rather than Islamic Studies because of her Christian beliefs.

Sukhraj, one of three Christians in her class of over 100, told outlet that her problems started in early April "when class teacher, Zahida Parveen unnecessarily began creating problems for me and expressing her displeasure with me because I chose Ethics."

"First, the teacher argued over the textbook of the Ethics class. Then she sent me out of the class as punishment. Later, she told me that if I could not study Islamic education, then why do I study in a Muslim school in the first place? She even told me, that, when she comes into the class, I must leave.

"No classmate or any other teacher has ever behaved like this, except this teacher," she said.

Sukhraj's uncle, Munir Nasir, tried to raise the concern with the school and local authorities, but was barred from seeing the principal. He also attempted to take up the issue with Attock district coordination officer, explaining that the teacher also told Muslim students not to eat or drink with Sukhraj. "Rather than addressing the matter, Sukhraj was shifted to evening classes," he added.

WWM notes that Christians in Pakistan's state schools face persistent problems with the content of textbooks.

The 2016 report by Pakistan's National Commission for Justice and Peace said that the government had failed to keep its promise to eradicate religious "hate material" from school textbooks. The research also found that Islamic religious parties have become a pressure group strong enough to prevent education authorities from revising school programs for fear of retaliation and protests.

One educational material discovered by the International Christian Concern talks about "Christian rulers" engaging in a necessary war with Muslims.

"Because Christian rulers were led by fanatic priests, that war with Muslims is necessary for the protection of cross," the material, used for Class 7th Social Studies, said.

Another one for Class 8th Social Studies talked about how Christian pastors "degraded other religions."

"The influence of Christian pastors had increased immensely and they were openly preaching their religion aided by their rule. They freely visit the cities and villages, organized gatherings to describe the qualities of Christianity degraded other religions," the material said.

Amelia Tariq, a Christian student at Punjab University, told Vatican News that that when she was a child she "was mocked by students from the Muslim majority, who questioned my identity. Belonging to a minority makes you feel isolated ".

In her view, it is the government's responsibility "to eliminate discriminatory elements from textbooks and ensure the protection of minority students. Programmes should promote harmony, tolerance, unity and nationalism, as the Fathers of the Nation did."

"This is not only about religious minorities but a national issue," NCJP executive director Cecil Shane Chaudhry said, according to Asia News. "It is a red flag for the government, which must ask the Church to promote the role of minorities in creating and defending the country."