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Dhaka Tribune

Legal notice seeks removal of Sharifa's Story from seventh-grade textbook

  • Sent to secretary of education ministry, NCTB chairman
  • Notice warns of legal action
Update : 25 Jan 2024, 05:05 PM

A legal notice has been sent to the secretary of the Ministry of Education and the chairman of the National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCTB) urging the removal of “Sharifa’s Story” from the seventh-grade history and social science textbook, which has sparked nationwide discussions and criticism.

Supreme Court lawyer Md Mahmudul Hasan sent the legal notice on Thursday.

The aforesaid chapter of the textbook says Sharif Ahmed is a boy and based on all his organs he is a boy. But he thinks he is a girl. So he changed his name to Sharifa. It adds that Sharif does not undergo any physical changes, but the individual believes he is a girl, the notice said. 

The notice claimed young students have been attracted towards transgender people through this story. Transgender and third-gender people are not the same, it added. 

“Third-gender people are born with some deformities. It is given by the creator. But transgender people do not have such defects, they are mentally disturbed. For example, a male transgender thinks he is a woman, while a female transgender thinks she is a man,” said the notice.

The legal notice also said the chapter is attracting young students towards these “perverted sexual tastes and mentally disturbed” transgender people. Besides, efforts are being made to promote the activities of these mentally disturbed transgender people in the textbooks. It is hurting the religious beliefs of the vast Muslim population of the country.

According to Article 2(A) of the Constitution of Bangladesh, the state religion of the republic is Islam. On the other hand, according to Article 41(1) of the Constitution, every citizen has the right to adopt and practice his religion. 

In this case, the Muslim community’s sentiment is being hurt through the promotion of the activities of transgender people in textbooks, the notice said.

According to Islamic law, promiscuity and homosexuality are strictly prohibited. Section 295 of the Penal Code has been violated by offending the religious beliefs of the Muslim community, which is a punishable offence, the notice added.

The notice called for the withdrawal of the book from all educational institutions and bookshops, asking the authorities to provide students with a revised version.

Otherwise, a writ petition will be filed in the High Court as per Article 102 of the Constitution to take action in this regard, it warned.

The Ministry of Education on Wednesday formed a five-member high-level expert committee to review "The Story of Sharifa" in the textbook.

The debate deepened further after Brac University earlier this month terminated the services of a teacher, who had criticized the incorporation of transgender issues in the textbook of the new curriculum.

Asif Mahtab, who was sacked as an adjunct faculty at the Philosophy Department of the university, on Monday told journalists that the authorities terminated him and asked him not to come to the university “without assigning any reason.” 

The university authorities, on Sunday night, told him verbally that they would not renew their contract with him, Mahtab added.

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