Bangladesh's Education Ministry was preparing to print the 2017 editions of its standard Bengali textbooks when a group of conservative Islamic religious scholars demanded the removal of 17 poems and stories they deemed "atheistic".
By the time the books were distributed to schools on January 1, the 17 poems and stories were gone, with no explanation from the government. Other changes had crept in, too: First-graders studying the alphabet were taught that "o" stands for "orna," a scarf worn by devout Muslim girls starting at puberty, not for "ol," a type of yam; and a sixth-grade travelogue describing a visit to the Hindu-dominated north of India was replaced by one about the Nile in Egypt.
The changes were barely noticeable to the general public, but they alarmed some Bangladesh intellectuals, who saw them as the government's accommodating a larger shift toward radical Islam. [The Age] Read more