Fun and games at the madrassa

If Wikipedia has it right there are currently around forty thousand madrassas in Pakistan. If they’re all full-time pseudo-schools as opposed to an hour or two in the afternoon, that’s an appalling figure, because they don’t teach anything, they just inject the Koran in Arabic, which is useless for anything except doing the same thing to the next generation of doomed children. And that’s before we even get to the political and, shall we say, combustion-related aspect.

A 14-year-old who was trained to kill by radicals in the tribal regions of Pakistan now sits in a crowded classroom at a detention facility in Kabul. His only wish is to see his parents again…”I didn’t want to do it but he forced me to go,” he says of his recruiter. Rubbing his face with his hand, he says he now spends his time dreaming of his life back home in rural Pakistan. His eyes begin to water and his voice becomes softer when he talks about missing his mother. Asked what he misses most about her, he says simply, “A mother is a mother.” His was a life of farming and tranquility in Pakistan, he says. It was also a life that took a drastic turn when his father decided to send Shakirullah for studies at a madrassa. He says his [father] wanted him to learn more about Islam and the Quran, something he could not do himself. He says his father didn’t know radicals ran the school. In the madrassa, Shakirullah learned to recite the Quran in Arabic, not his native language. He relied solely on the fanatical interpretations the mullahs were giving him. “When I finished reciting the Quran, a mullah then came to me and told me, ‘Now that you have finished the Quran, you need to go and commit a suicide attack.’ That I should go to Afghanistan to commit a suicide attack,” he says.

So – lucky parents of rural Pakistan – they send a child to what they think is a place where he’ll learn more about Islam and the Quran but is in fact a place where adult men send children out to kill themselves and others. How nice.

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