Monday, May 22, 2006

Teaching Intolerance in Saudi Textbooks

From the Washington Post, an article by Nina Shea, Director of the Center for Religious Freedom at Freedom House:
Saudi Arabia’s public schools have long been cited for demonizing the West as well as Christians, Jews and other “unbelievers.” But after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 — in which 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis — that was all supposed to change.

A 2004 Saudi royal study group recognized the need for reform after finding that the kingdom’s religious studies curriculum “encourages violence toward others, and misguides the pupils into believing that in order to safeguard their own religion, they must violently repress and even physically eliminate the ‘other.’” Since then, the Saudi government has claimed repeatedly that it has revised its educational texts.

The problem is: These claims are not true.
Shea goes on to explain how Freedom House came into possession of a collection of current Saudi textbooks which were snuck out of the country.
Some of our sources are Shiites and Sunnis from non-Wahhabi traditions — people condemned as “polytheistic” or “deviant” or “bad” in these texts — others are simply frustrated that these books do so little to prepare young students for the modern world.
Freedom House then had the textbooks translated independently by two fluent Arabic speakers. What was taught?
FIRST GRADE

“Every religion other than Islam is false.”

“Fill in the blanks with the appropriate words (Islam, hellfire): Every religion other than ______________ is false. Whoever dies outside of Islam enters ____________.”

FOURTH GRADE

“True belief means . . . that you hate the polytheists and infidels but do not treat them unjustly.”

FIFTH GRADE

“Whoever obeys the Prophet and accepts the oneness of God cannot maintain a loyal friendship with those who oppose God and His Prophet, even if they are his closest relatives.”

“It is forbidden for a Muslim to be a loyal friend to someone who does not believe in God and His Prophet, or someone who fights the religion of Islam.”

“A Muslim, even if he lives far away, is your brother in religion. Someone who opposes God, even if he is your brother by family tie, is your enemy in religion.”

SIXTH GRADE

“Just as Muslims were successful in the past when they came together in a sincere endeavor to evict the Christian crusaders from Palestine, so will the Arabs and Muslims emerge victorious, God willing, against the Jews and their allies if they stand together and fight a true jihad for God, for this is within God’s power.”

EIGHTH GRADE

“As cited in Ibn Abbas: The apes are Jews, the people of the Sabbath; while the swine are the Christians, the infidels of the communion of Jesus.”

“God told His Prophet, Muhammad, about the Jews, who learned from parts of God’s book [the Torah and the Gospels] that God alone is worthy of worship. Despite this, they espouse falsehood through idol-worship, soothsaying, and sorcery. In doing so, they obey the devil. They prefer the people of falsehood to the people of the truth out of envy and hostility. This earns them condemnation and is a warning to us not to do as they did.”

“They are the Jews, whom God has cursed and with whom He is so angry that He will never again be satisfied [with them].”

“Some of the people of the Sabbath were punished by being turned into apes and swine. Some of them were made to worship the devil, and not God, through consecration, sacrifice, prayer, appeals for help, and other types of worship. Some of the Jews worship the devil. Likewise, some members of this nation worship the devil, and not God.”

“Activity: The student writes a composition on the danger of imitating the infidels.”

NINTH GRADE

“The clash between this [Muslim] community (umma) and the Jews and Christians has endured, and it will continue as long as God wills.”

“It is part of God’s wisdom that the struggle between the Muslim and the Jews should continue until the hour [of judgment].”

“Muslims will triumph because they are right. He who is right is always victorious, even if most people are against him.”

TENTH GRADE

The 10th-grade text on jurisprudence teaches that life for non-Muslims (as well as women, and, by implication, slaves) is worth a fraction of that of a “free Muslim male.” Blood money is retribution paid to the victim or the victim’s heirs for murder or injury:

“Blood money for a free infidel. [Its quantity] is half of the blood money for a male Muslim, whether or not he is ‘of the book’ or not ‘of the book’ (such as a pagan, Zoroastrian, etc.).

“Blood money for a woman: Half of the blood money for a man, in accordance with his religion. The blood money for a Muslim woman is half of the blood money for a male Muslim, and the blood money for an infidel woman is half of the blood money for a male infidel.”

ELEVENTH GRADE

“The greeting ‘Peace be upon you’ is specifically for believers. It cannot be said to others.”

“If one comes to a place where there is a mixture of Muslims and infidels, one should offer a greeting intended for the Muslims.”

“Do not yield to them [Christians and Jews] on a narrow road out of honor and respect.”

TWELFTH GRADE

“Jihad in the path of God — which consists of battling against unbelief, oppression, injustice, and those who perpetrate it — is the summit of Islam. This religion arose through jihad and through jihad was its banner raised high. It is one of the noblest acts, which brings one closer to God, and one of the most magnificent acts of obedience to God.”
Interestingly, the Saudi government not only runs a public school system in Saudi Arabia consisting of 25,000 schools, but it also runs schools in 19 world capitals. One of these is in Fairfax County, Virginia, right outside Washington, DC.

Looking at the school’s web site, we have trouble seeing it as sinister, although a devout brand is Islam is apparently taught there. But within Saudi Arabia, without the moderating influence of American culture, one can see how this sort of teaching is a recipe for terrorist violence.

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