Curtailing ‘immodesty’: Ex-lawmaker ‘decrees’ against female education

The Express Tribune 7 May 2012
By Muhammad Sadaqat

KOHISTAN / DASSU: A former lawmaker and cleric from Kohistan district, Maulana Abdul Haleem, termed formal education for women un-Islamic and asked parents to pluck their daughters from school, or else they would be ‘doomed’.

The nonagenarian, who was elected to the National Assembly from Kohistan on the now-defunct Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal’s ticket in 2002, also railed against non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in the region in his Friday sermon, calling them ‘hubs of immodesty’.

Nestled in the Himalayas, the Kohistan district is picturesque, but also one of the least-literate and least developed in the country.

Fiery sermon

Maulana Haleem, who was an office-bearer of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl until recently, was delivering a Friday sermon, at Jamia Masjid Komila, on who is dayoos, or those liable to be condemned to hell.

"It’s beghairti (immodesty) to equip girls with secular education,” the cleric said, adding that those Kohistani parents who were sending their girls to schools were acting against ‘Islamic shariah’ and the local customs.

"The Kohistani culture does not allow parents to send their pardadar (modest) girls to schools,” the former lawmaker said.

He did not spare female NGO workers either.

"Some women from these NGOs visit our houses frequently, mobilising naive Kohistani women to follow their agenda in the name of health and hygiene education,” he said, adding that this was ‘unacceptable to Kohistani culture’. He threatened them with ‘dire consequences’, saying that married female NGO workers will be sent back to their husbands, and the unmarried ones will be wedded to Kohistani men. (...)