'Arab Spring' no picnic for Christians

religion | Oct 30, 2013 | By Martin Barillas

The so-called "Arab Spring" that saw the downfall of governments in Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt, have had a negative impact on freedom of education, which has penalized the traditional educational work carried out by Christian schools in North Africa and the Mideast.

The issue was discussed at the annual meeting of the national secretaries of Catholic schools in the Middle East and North Africa, held in Jordan, October 17-19. The conference concluded that in no country has freedom of education expanded. "Even in the most favorable situations, like the one we live in Jordan", explains Father Hanna Kildani, head of Christian schools in Jordan – we have been talking for some time with representatives of the Ministry of Education on the need to review school books enhancing the educational criteria of freedom of conscience, mutual respect, dialogue between religious communities, including programs with reference to the history of Christianity. But so far we have not had any real change".

According to the Fides news service, conferees said that there are serious concerns in countries such as Tunisia and the Gaza Strip, where there is increasing pressure to push Islamist ideology in the school program. "In Egypt," said Fr. Kildani "Christian schools along with churches have become the chosen target of attacks and bombings carried out by Islamist gangs to terrorize the Copts: so now people are afraid to send their children to study in Christian schools".

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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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