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Last Updated: Friday, 10 December, 2004, 10:53 GMT
Madrassas hit by sex abuse claims
By Paul Anderson
BBC News, Islamabad

Students read the Koran at a Madrassa
Some clerics demanded an apology from Mr Hussain
A Pakistani minister has revealed hundreds of cases of alleged child sex abuse at Islamic schools, or madrassas.

There were 500 complaints this year of abuse allegedly committed by clerics, Aamer Liaquat Hussain, a minister in the religious affairs department, said.

That compares with 2,000 last year, but as yet there have been no successful prosecutions, Mr Hussain told the BBC.

The minister's revelations have sparked death threats and infuriated some religious political leaders.

Mr Hussain said he had received death threats from clerics, but that he had done his job and his conscience was clear.

Leaders angered

The time had come for his country to face the bitter truth - the sickness of child abuse, he said.

The allegations involving Pakistan's Sunni majority and Shia minority referred to a tiny proportion of the country's 10,000 or so madrassas, he said.

He added that the body responsible for them, the Federation of Madrassas, was willing to co-operate with investigations because some clerics were bringing a bad name to Islam.

However, the revelations have angered some Islamic leaders. At a parliamentary meeting this week, some demanded he apologise.

The abuse revelations were made during a week in which the Pakistani government has been meeting religious leaders to build awareness of the spread of HIV/Aids.

Pakistan is stepping up its anti-Aids campaign, and the idea is to utilise the clerics' unique reach into communities to increase HIV/Aids awareness and to preach prevention.

Pakistan's taboo on sex abuse
17 Nov 04 |  South Asia
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07 May 04 |  South Asia
Country profile: Pakistan
14 Aug 04 |  Country profiles

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