In an effort to curb the rampant rise in religious extremism and detrimentally ultra-conservative viewpoints among Egypt’s budding youths, the Ministry of Religious Endowments plans to implement a new textbook, to be used in the beginning of the coming academic year in September, that aims to teach religious tolerance, upstanding behavior and generally not being terrible to each other.

Though originally announced in April, the Ministry – which keeps Egypt’s mosques and religious school teachings in check – is determined to see the book nestled firmly in each and every school’s curricula, much to the dismay of conservative parties, the likes of Salafist preacher Sameh Abdel Hamid, who claims that “This is the reality: The government wants to eliminate the religion classes and they are paving the way for this by teaching this new textbook. Do we really need the new book when religion books contain all the values and ideals contained in it?” Strange, seeing as how the book emphasises the importance of religious tolerance, and that difference in any shape or form is not a sin, as well as the fact that our world is big enough for everybody to frolic in regardless of creeds and beliefs. The book has also been approved by the country’s leading Islam authority, al-Azhar, as well as the Coptic Orthodox Church - the foremost Christian authority in Egypt.

The heat from conservatives seems to also stem from mixing both Muslim and Christian students in the same classroom, with regards to the course itself. Doubly strange, seeing as the textbook is not meant to replace religion classes at schools, but is merely a much-needed step forward in closing the gap left by unchecked religious divide “We only want our children to agree on a certain set of morals, be averse to violence and tolerate differences,” Said Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa, Minister of Religious Endowments. “These are all values important to spread as we fight this ferocious war against extremism.”

Main photo from World Food Programme.