India-Pakistan: December 10, 2004

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 A bomb went off in a market in southwest Pakistan (Baluchistan), killing eleven civilians. Baluchi separatists took responsibility, and said the bomb, on a bicycle, was intended for an army truck. There was a big public outcry over this, and many arrests followed. 

Pakistan has tried, without much success, to crack down on the madrasses, religious schools,  which are often subsidized by Islamic conservatives from Saudi Arabia. Now a weakness has been found; child abuse. Many of the madrassa students are children under 14, and its common knowledge that some of the clerics and teachers running the madrasses will sexually molest their students. In the past, not much attention was paid to this, because it was so shameful. In the province of Punjab (the largest in Pakistan), there have been 500 complaints about such abuse in the last six months. The government decided to act. So far, 14 clerics have been arrested. While it consumes considerable police resources to investigate and prosecute these cases, the publicity makes more parents aware of the danger to their children, and results in fewer students at the religious schools. The staff of these schools often teach a very strict and hostile (to non Moslems) form of Islam.

 

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