A private school network that claims to be one of the largest in the world has expelled schoolchildren from its Pakistan facility because they belong to a minority Muslim sect that many Islamic clerics and scholars consider to be heretical.
According to an article in Bitter Winter, a multilingual magazine devoted to exposing religious persecution primarily in China, the Mithial Campus of the Educator’s School Network in the Pakistani city of Attock recently expelled four students because they are members of the Ahmadiyya faith.
The educational network is part of the Beaconhouse group, which was founded in Lahore, Pakistan, in 1975 and is rooted in the Montessori school system created by the Italian theosophist and liberal educator Maria Montessori, well known for her campaigns in support of democracy and against racism and religious discrimination.
Beaconhouse has more than 315,000 full-time students in eight countries, including Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, the United Arab Emirates and Belgium.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, with more than 20 million members worldwide, was founded in 1889 by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, a Muslim scholar revered as the prophet of the Ahmadiyya. Ahmadiyyas, also known as Ahmadis, are severely persecuted by other Muslims who believe the Prophet Muhammad is Islam’s only divine messenger.
Their mistreatment is particularly grievous in Pakistan, where hundreds of Ahmadiyyas have been killed based on their religious beliefs, dozens of their mosques destroyed or desecrated, and members of the faith are not only forbidden from preaching, proselytizing, voting and holding office but are subject to three years in prison for “posing” as Muslims by merely uttering common Islamic greetings.
“What happened in Attock is an international scandal because of what Beaconhouse and The Educators School Network are,” wrote Massimo Introvigne, author of the Bitter Winter article. An Italian sociologist of religions, Introvigne, the magazine’s editor, is also the founder and managing director of the Center for Studies on New Religions, a Turin, Italy-based international network of scholars specializing in new religious movements.
“It is inconceivable,” Introvigne said, “that Beaconhouse can at the same time present itself as a beacon of tolerance and peace following Montessori’s ideas and participate in Pakistani intolerance and bigotry against the Ahmadis.”
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