The first democratically elected president in Afghanistan’s history, Hamid Karzai, wants more of his country’s students to stay at home to study Islam.
The president, a strong ally of the United States, has announced plans to build a religious education institute, aimed at offering a more moderate form of Islamic education to college-age students than he believes they would receive at madrassas in Pakistan, Iran, and other countries. The school will be named after Sayed Jamaludin, a 19th-century Afghan scholar, and located in the capital, Kabul, said Asraf Haidari, the first secretary at the Embassy of Afghanistan in Washington.
President Karzai believes that proponents of radical Islam—including members of the Taliban, which he and his supporters helped U.S. forces topple from power in Afghanistan in 2001—developed many of their radical beliefs at madrassas in Pakistan, Mr. Haidari said.
Madrassas are religious schools in which the Quran, the holy text of Islam, is studied. Mr. Karzai is attempting to promote a more moderate, peaceful brand of religion, Mr. Haidari said. The school is being financed, he said, by the government of the United Arab Emirates.
A version of this article appeared in the February 22, 2006 edition of Education Week