Revised Saudi Textbooks Still Demonize Christians, Jews,Non-Wahhabi Muslims and Other "Unbelievers".
Freedom House's Center for Religious Freedom released a report analyzing a set of Saudi Ministry of Education textbooks in use during the current academic year in Islamic studies courses for elementaryand secondary students. The textbooks promote an ideology of hatred towards people, including Muslims, who do not subscribe to the Wahhabi sect of Islam.
The report, entitled Saudi Arabia's Curriculum of Intolerance, was prepared by Freedom House's Center for Religious Freedom in cooperation with the Institute for Gulf Affairs.
The report's findings contradict claims made repeatedly by senior Saudigovernment spokesmen that they have thoroughly revised their educational materials. Over a year ago, Saudi embassy spokesman Adel al-Jubeir stated:"We have reviewed our educational curriculums. We have removed materials that are inciteful or intolerant towards people of other faiths." The newSaudi ambassador to the United States, Prince Turki al-Faisal, while on a nation-wide speaking tour earlier this year, asserted: "We eliminated what might be perceived as intolerance from old textbooks that were in our system." Just last week, on May 18, the Saudi Foreign Minister, Prince SaudAl-Faisal stated that ".the whole system of education is being transformed from top to bottom. Textbooks are only one of the steps that have been takenby Saudi Arabia."
However, the report shows that these textbooks:
* Condemn and denigrate the majority of Sunni Muslims who do not follow the Wahhabi understanding of Islam, and call them deviants and descendants of polytheists.
* Condemn and denigrate Shiite and Sufi Muslims' beliefs and practices as heretical and call them "polytheists;"
* Command Muslims to "hate" Christians, Jews, "polytheists" and other"unbelievers," including non-Wahhabi Muslims, though, incongruously, not to treat them "unjustly";
* Teach the infamous forgeries, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,as historical fact;
* Teach other conspiracy theories accusing Freemasons, Lions Clubsand Rotary Clubs of plotting to undermine Muslims;
* Teach that "Jews and the Christians are enemies of the [Muslim]believers" and that "the clash" between the two realms is perpetual;
* Instruct students not to "greet," "befriend," "imitate," "showloyalty to," "be courteous to," or "respect" non-believers;
* Assert that the spread of Islam through jihad is a "religious duty;"
* Instruct that "fighting between Muslims and Jews" will continue until Judgment Day, and that the Muslims are promised victory over the Jewsin the end;
* Include a map of the Middle East that labels Israel within its pre-1967 borders as "Palestine: occupied 1948."
The Wahhabi sect of Islam is the foundation of the Saudi state's political ideology, and at the core of its educational curriculum. According to theSaudi embassy in Washington, the Saudi public school system has 25,000schools, educating some 5 million students. Saudi Arabia also runs academies in 19 world capitals, including one outside Washington in Alexandria,Virginia, that use some of these same religious texts. Moreover, SaudiArabia also distributes its religion texts around the world to some Islamic schools and madrassas that it does not directly operate.