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Madrassa plan will help fight militancy: Analysts

Dhaka's Islamic schools, considered by critics to be breeding grounds for militants, are being brought into the mainstream.

india Updated: Aug 24, 2006 16:51 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India

Bangladesh's Islamic religious schools, considered by critics to be breeding grounds for militants, are being brought into the mainstream by the government in a move analysts say will help thwart extremism.

Education ministry officials this week said the government would in future recognise degrees awarded by the madrassas -- a step Islamic leaders have long campaigned for.

The move was also welcomed by analysts and academics who said it would increase state influence over the institutions, which teach almost three million students nationwide, and help reduce militancy.

"This recognition is a very good initiative as it will help to control -- directly or indirectly -- the madrassas," said security expert and former army brigadier general Sakhawat Hossain.

"Before, the madrassa students were treated as inferior. They could not compete for jobs and this led to militancy because they were motivated to take revenge on the system," he added.

Golam Hossain, professor of government and politics at Jahangir Nagar University in central Bangladesh, said the recognition would ensure greater scrutiny of the madrassas.

"Some terrorists use madrassas as their base and the government needs to monitor foreign funding. This move is very encouraging," he said.

The recognition was unveiled in a speech given by Prime Minister Khaleda Zia to a group of Islamic scholars on Monday and later publicly confirmed by officials.

Students from the now unregulated madrassas would in future be recognised as having earned the equivalent of a Masters degree in Islamic studies and Arabic literature, the officials said.

First Published: Aug 24, 2006 16:51 IST