Sunday, May 21, 2006

Saudi Texts Continue to Support Hatred

After 9/11, Saudi Arabia (home to many of the hijackers) promised to revise their education to end teaching hatred of the west. “Not only have we eliminated what might be perceived as intolerance from old textbooks that were in our system, we have implemented a comprehensive internal revision and modernization plan.” The Washington Post also reports that lastyear an embassy spokesman claimed,”We have reviewed our educational curriculums. We have removed materials that are inciteful or intolerant towards people of other faiths.” The Post also found that these claims are not true:

A review of a sample of official Saudi textbooks for Islamic studies used during the current academic year reveals that, despite the Saudi government’s statements to the contrary, an ideology of hatred toward Christians and Jews and Muslims who do not follow Wahhabi doctrine remains in this area of the public school system. The texts teach a dualistic vision, dividing the world into true believers of Islam (the “monotheists”) and unbelievers (the “polytheists” and “infidels”).

This indoctrination begins in a first-grade text and is reinforced and expanded each year, culminating in a 12th-grade text instructing students that their religious obligation includes waging jihad against the infidel to “spread the faith.”

The article provides many examples from their texts. As early as first grade they are told, ” Every religion other than Islam is false.” Fifth graders are taught, “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.” In sixth grade the lesson is, “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.”

The intolerance continues as the children get older. Eighth grade texts claim, “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.” Ninth grade texts advocate struggle with lessons such as, “It is part of God’s wisdom that the struggle between the Muslim and the Jews should continue until the hour [of judgment].” Tenth graders learn that the life of a non-Muslim, and woman, or slave “is worth a fraction of that of a ‘free Muslim male.’”

We try to show tolerance towards other religions and look at their peaceful teachings, but perhaps, as Sam Harris warns, we are deluding ourselves. Eleventh graders are taught, “The greeting ‘Peace be upon you’ is specifically for believers. It cannot be said to others.” This sets them up for the ultimate lesson for twelth graders: “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.”

Sunday morning is a poor time to judge the blogosphere as many bloggers are not yet very active. So far I’ve seen minimal coverage of this, much of it from the conservative blogs. Revulsion at these teachings is one area where bloggers from the left and right can find common ground. Perhaps this will lead to better understanding of why conservatives desire to go to war against jihadists (even if their plans in Iraq are misguided) and conservatives will better understand why liberals feel separation of church and state is an area where there can be no safe compromise, and that long term energy independence is essential.


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