Four students have been expelled from their school in Attock, Punjab, Pakistan, on account of their religious beliefs.
In an expulsion document dated 22 September, the Principal of the Mithal Campus of The Educators private school network wrote that the four students were “being withdrawal [sic] on the basis of Qadianiat Religion.” Qadianat is a derogatory term for Ahmadis.
Pakistan’s Ahmadiyya community is the most institutionally and constitutionally oppressed religious group in the country. Various laws categorise the Ahmadiyya community as “non-Muslims” and place restrictions on the community, including a 1974 constitutional amendment, 1984 Ordinance XX (20), and sections 298(B) and (C) of the penal code.
Discrimination in educational settings on account of religion or belief is also widespread in the country, as detailed in CSW’s 2018 ‘Faith and a Future’ report. Official textbooks promote intolerance by omitting religious minority heroes, and including errors, omissions, and in some cases derogatory language towards religious minorities. Religious minority students can also face physical and psychological abuse from teachers and classmates.
In July 2020 the government announced the creation of a ‘Single National Curriculum’ (SNC) to replace its 2006 school curriculum. The new curriculum requires students to undergo even more Islamic religious teaching in compulsory subjects, in violation of Article 22(1) of the Pakistani Constitution. Non-Muslims are often reluctant to opt to study an alternative ethics class because this identifies them as a religious minority and increases discrimination.
CSW’s Founder President Mervyn Thomas said: “CSW condemns this flagrant discrimination against four Ahmadi students in Attock. That these four individuals were openly expelled from their school on account of their religion with no other reason given is proof of the prevailing attitude of intolerance towards the Ahmadiyya community in Pakistan. We call on the government of Pakistan to intervene in this case swiftly to ensure that these four students are able to resume their education by finding them a new and safe school in which they can enrol, in addition to holding to account the Principal and any other authorities who were responsible for these unjust dismissals and any subsequent violations or trauma arising from them.”