UK, US active to change madrasas
Wednesday, 22 December 2010


The UK and the US government are working hand-in-hand to influence Bangladesh's madrasa curricula in a bid to achieve a 'common counterterrorism goal', WikiLeaks has revealed.

British government officials have made moves towards influencing Islamic education in Bangladesh as part of regional counterterrorism strategies.

A leaked diplomatic cable, released by WikiLeaks, says how the Department for International Development (DFID) has been working with the US to change the curricula of thousands of madrasas, The Guardian newspaper reported on Tuesday.

US ambassador to Dhaka James Moriarty in a cable, discussing British and American counterterrorism tactics for Bangladesh, notes how their plans involved asking Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina to develop and implement standardised curricula for unregulated Islamic madrasa schools.

The moves followed a proposal for madrasa 'curriculum development programme' to the Bangladeshi government by the US government development agency — USAID.

Madrasas are blamed by many to be keep children out of the main stream of education and radicalising children, with claims emerging that Islamist political parties may have used them to set up jihadist training camps.

Last week, the Bangladesh government ordered an investigation into funding for madrasas after claims that banned Islamic militant group Hizb-ut-Tahrir had been establishing bases there.

Dr Ghaysuddin Siddiqui of the Muslim Institute in London agreed that DFID's intervention was an attempt to prevent radicalisation of Muslim youths in South Asia. "This is a very old problem," he said. "There has been a need to look at the curriculum in unregulated madrasas for a very long time."

The influential British newspaper, however, failed to collect DFID comment on the issue.


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