FIXED-Indian state bans Islamic schools and draws criticism

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(Correct to say that the ban is only imposed on public Islamic schools in paragraphs 1 and 3, not all Islamic schools)

By Zarir Hussain

GUWAHATI, India, December 30 (Reuters) – An Indian state led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist party on Wednesday passed a law to abolish state-run Islamic schools, saying they provide inferior education.

Opposition politicians criticized the move and said it reflected the government’s anti-Muslim stance in the predominantly Hindu country.

More than 700 government-funded religious schools known as madrasas in northeast Assam will be closed by April, State Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said, to the local assembly.

“We need more doctors, police officers, bureaucrats and teachers, from the minority Muslim community rather than imams for the mosques,” said Sarma, a rising star of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of Modi.

The government would convert them into regular schools, because the education in madrasas could not prepare anyone for the “temporal world and its earthly concerns,” he said.

Opposition politicians said the move was an attack on Muslims.

“The idea is to eliminate Muslims,” said Wajed Ali Choudhury, an opposition party congressman.

More than 100 senior officials and retired diplomats on Tuesday urged the BJP government of India’s largest state of Uttar Pradesh to repeal a new law criminalizing forced religious conversion of wives, seen as targeting Muslims. (Written by Shilpa Jamkhandikar; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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