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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Pakistani Madrasas Teach Hatred With Religion

Aired October 18, 2001 - 06:25   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Well here's a story you have to see to believe and in Pakistan reading and writing are not the only subjects taught in some religious grade schools, hatred for the U.S. is also in the curriculum.

CNN's Amanda Kibel takes us inside one such school in Bhag Nari, Pakistan.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(CHILD SPEAKING)

AMANDA KIBEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is fighting talk and the hatred behind it runs deeps. The speaker draws his audience, the crowd is inflamed, they rise up and shout "our blood is ready for sacrifice."

"Listen, America," says the speaker, "listen, General Pervez Musharraf, every Muslim child is going to be an Osama for you."

A chilling message made even more so by the fact that the messenger is an 8-year-old boy.

On the dusty streets of his home village in a remote part of southwestern Balochistan, Qutaratullah Afiz looks just like any other young boy on a bike, except for his hat. Sewn in the black and white colors of the JUI Party, an Islamic extremist, pro-Taliban religious party at the forefront of much of the anti-American protests seen so far in Pakistan, his hat a badge of allegiance to a way of thinking and a way of life way beyond his eight years.

At home where he lives with his family, father, mother, his father's second wife and 11 siblings, Qutaratullah is once again ready to make a speech.

"In the name of God, in the name of Allah," he intones.

KIBEL: The words spill out as if by remote control. This time his delivery is less intense but it is the same speech we heard him give just days before.

Why, I asked, is he so angry?

"I am angry because of the situation," he says. "The United States is bombing innocent Muslims. The United States says Osama bin Laden is a terrorist, they blame the Taliban, but they are the biggest terrorists of all."

Qutaratullah says he has never met an American and he doesn't need to, he says, he hates them all the same.

"We hate them because they attacked our Muslim brothers without showing any proof they are guilty."

His father, Hafizula, a teacher at a local secular school, is clearly proud of his son. He tells us he has a gift from God. He has learned about the U.S. attacks on Afghanistan by reading newspapers and listening to the radio. His vision for his son's future he says is in the hands of God.

"With God's will," he says, "I want all my children to be masters of religion, to know the whole Koran by heart and when they all grow, I will put them in a good madrasa."

That process has already begun. Every day, Qutaratullah spends his mornings at the local state school. In the afternoons, he goes to the madrasa or religious school which customarily does not admit girls. There are thousands of madrasi all over Pakistan. For many young boys, the limited religious education offered by the madrasi is the only education they get.

The Pakistan government has tried and failed to bring these schools into the mainstream by forcing them to register with the country's education department. It hoped this would be a way to keep track and even influence the madrasi teachings.

KIBEL (on camera): The stated aim of madrasas like this is to keep Islam alive through education, but at times like this, it seems politics are also very much on the school agenda.

(voice-over): Politics which critics say is taught without the benefit of a broader secular understanding. Much of the political teachings they say are designed to foster fundamentalism and breed militancy. Certainly there is no shortage of young boys in madrasas throughout the country eager and ready to die for their cause.

Qutaratullah is no exception. He says he wants to join the jihad and he is not afraid to die.

"God has created us and he can kill us," he says. "There is a time for everyone to die. It would be special," he says, "for me to die in the name of jihad."

His desire for jihad has his father's blessing.

"The child is very young," he says, "but if he was older, then with the will of God I would send him."

Qutaratullah's mother could not be interviewed. Her husband explains, according to their religion, a woman over the age of nine cannot be seen by a man outside the family. In a back room behind a door hidden from strange eyes, Qutaratullah's mother told me, God willing she too would like to see her son join the jihad.

But for Qutaratullah, jihad is not the only dream. I asked if he would one day like to leave his village and see the world.

"No," he says. "I would only like to go to Afghanistan because there, God willing," he says, "I can meet Osama bin Laden."

Amanda Kibel, CNN, Bhag Nari, Pakistan.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Speaking as a father, I'm just not used to 8-year-old boys talking about what they'd die for.

PHILLIPS: It's pretty chilling.

HARRIS: Yes, interesting -- very interesting.

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