Indian state bans Islamic schools, draws criticism

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By Zarir Hussain

GUWAHATI, India, December 30 (Reuters) – An Indian state led by the Hindu nationalist party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday passed a law abolishing all Islamic schools, saying they provided substandard education.

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

More than 700 schools, known as madrasas, in northeast Assam will be closed by April, state education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told 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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