Daylife/AP Photo used by permission
A Dakar court sentenced seven Quranic teachers to six months probation today for forcing pupils to beg, a first in the majority Muslim country which recently banned begging in public places.
The accused, six Senegalese and one from Guinea-Bissau, were also fined 150 euros in what Human Rights Watch said was the first ever application of a 2005 law outlawing the practice.
Barefoot, in oversized and ragged clothing, scores of children as young as four or five clutching a tin move in groups through Dakar, swarming passers-by for a bit of change, sugar or rice.
They bring their takings back to their religious teachers who keep them on the streets as much as seven days a week, with the threat of punishment if they do not return with their daily quota…
The seven religious teachers were arrested after testimony from children between the ages of six and 16 who were rounded up by police after the ban. During the trial defence lawyers pleaded for leniency, arguing that according to tradition, Quranic teachers around the country have always made their pupils beg, and the State had previously tolerated the offence…
Dakar-based researcher Matthew Wells told AFP that while the “punishment was slight… the arrest and conviction of these men represent an important step towards the end of exploitation of vulnerable children under the guise of religious teaching.”
Yes, I know a few Christians who deserve to learn from this.