By Nafees Takkar, Christian Science Monitor
The Easter bombing of civilians in a park in Lahore follows a long rise of religious extremism in Pakistan and a poisoning of public opinion towards minority faiths.
The jihadist group that claimed responsibility for Sunday’s suicide bombing said they had targeted Christians, though most of the 72 killed were Muslims.
On the same day, thousands of radicals began a four-day sit-in in Islamabad over the execution of a bodyguard who killed a provincial governor who had been a voice for religious tolerance.
Yet the toxic religious atmosphere in Pakistan can’t be blamed entirely on jihadis on the periphery of society, or on the system of religious madrassas.
In recent years in government-approved schools, students are using textbooks that teach hostility towards all forms of thought and expression – except orthodox Sunni Islam.
Pakistani intellectuals and secular educators argue that the texts present a steady pitter patter of negative views on other faiths, on democracy and the West, that begin at the earliest grades and continue through high school graduation.
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