Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Petition to stop UK aid spent on 'religiously biased' textbooks in Pakistan

Fri 18 Jan 2019
By Cara Bentley

A petition has been handed in to the foreign office by Siobhain McDonagh MP, calling for an end to UK money spent on books that promote religious intolerance.

The 5,657 signatories on the petition are concerned about content in school textbooks in Pakistan that encourages discrimination against religious minorities, including calling Hindus 'enemies of Pakistan' and the removal of the contributions of religious minorities to Pakistan's history.

The Labour MP for Mitcham and Morden handed it in to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (pictured), the Prime Minister's Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Lord Bates, the Minister of State for the Department for International Development (DfID) and Preet Gill, the first female British Sikh MP.

Siobhain McDonagh said: "It is imperative that no taxpayer money goes on funding discrimination or religious hatred anywhere in the world."

The campaigners behind the petition also suggest that the government supports interfaith initiatives to encourage mutual understanding between religious communities.

Pakistan is number five on the 2019 World Watch list compiled by Open Doors to monitor which countries face the worst persecution for Christians. Many face discrimination at work and are scared to talk about their faith openly for being at risk of breaking blasphemy laws.

The chief executive of the religious freedom group, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Mervyn Thomas CMG said: "We would like to thank Siobhain McDonagh MP and Preet Gill MP for raising this important issue with the UK government.

"It is vital that the FCO and DfID make the removal of biased content from educational material a priority in their work in Pakistan. Every child should be able to access education without experiencing religious discrimination and intolerance, and through our Faith and a Future campaign CSW will continue to work towards realising this aim."

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