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 Racism in Saudi Texts

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These two articles detail the extent of racism and ant-Semitism is Saudi texts introduced in the the United States after 9-11, and in Saudi texts in Saudi Arabia. These may be taken as representative of Arab and Muslim countries. These reports surfaced in 2006, but they represent an ongoing situation which in essentially unchanged. A furor was caused in 2002 when a Saudi newspaper claimed that Jews bake cakes with the blood of Christian children, but the claim was probably not exceptional.

Nina Shea's report on Saudi textbooks illustrates the problem. These are the texts after the intolerance was supposedly removed, and this material is being distributed in the West.

A few examples will suffice - you can read the whole sorry report below.

This is some of the wisdom taught to eighth graders:

"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."

Tenth graders learn that Muslim men are worth more than women or non-Muslims:

"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."

In case you believed that Jihad is an inner struggle of the believer with his soul, this twelfth grade text will correct your misconception:

"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."

Some Muslims may believe Jihad is an inner struggle. That is apparently not what the children of your Muslim neighbors in the USA or Australia or Britain or Holland or France are learning in their schools. We can only imagine what sort of things are taught in Arabic textbooks, because usually these are not accessible to Westerners.

In a postscript - the report is confirmed by the New York Times and writers in Dubai:

Ami Isseroff

This is a Saudi textbook. (After the intolerance was removed.)

By Nina Shea
Sunday, May 21, 2006; B01

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.

Prince Turki al-Faisal, the Saudi ambassador to the United States, has worked aggressively to spread this message. "The kingdom has reviewed all of its education practices and materials, and has removed any element that is inconsistent with the needs of a modern education," he said on a recent speaking tour to several U.S. cities. "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 Saudi government even took out a full-page ad in the New Republic last December to tout its success at "having modernized our school curricula to better prepare our children for the challenges of tomorrow." A year ago, an embassy spokesman declared: "We have reviewed our educational curriculums. We have removed materials that are inciteful or intolerant towards people of other faiths." The embassy is also distributing a 74-page review on curriculum reform to show that the textbooks have been moderated.

The problem is: 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."

Freedom House knows this because Ali al-Ahmed, a Saudi dissident who runs the Washington-based Institute for Gulf Affairs , gave us a dozen of the current, purportedly cleaned-up Saudi Ministry of Education religion textbooks. The copies he obtained were not provided by the government, but by teachers, administrators and families with children in Saudi schools, who slipped them out one by one.

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.

We then had the texts translated separately by two independent, fluent Arabic speakers.

Religion is the foundation of the Saudi state's political ideology; it is also a key area of Saudi education in which students are taught the interpretation of Islam known as Wahhabism (a movement founded 250 years ago by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab) that is reflected in these textbooks.

Scholars estimate that within the Saudi public school curriculum, Islamic studies make up a quarter to a third of students' weekly classroom hours in lower and middle school, plus several hours each week in high school. Educators who question or dissent from the official interpretation of Islam can face severe reprisals. In November 2005, a Saudi teacher who made positive statements about Jews and the New Testament was fired and sentenced to 750 lashes and a prison term. (He was eventually pardoned after public and international protests.)

The Saudi public school system totals 25,000 schools, educating about 5 million students. In addition, Saudi Arabia runs academies in 19 world capitals, including one outside Washington in Fairfax County, that use some of these same religious texts.

Saudi Arabia also distributes its religion texts worldwide to numerous Islamic schools and madrassas that it does not directly operate. Undeterred by Wahhabism's historically fringe status, Saudi Arabia is trying to assert itself as the world's authoritative voice on Islam -- a sort of "Vatican" for Islam, as several Saudi officials have stated-- and these textbooks are integral to this effort. As the report of the commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks observed, "Even in affluent countries, Saudi-funded Wahhabi schools are often the only Islamic schools" available.

Education is at the core of the debate over freedom in the Muslim world. Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden understands this well; in a recent audiotape he railed against those who would "interfere with school curricula."

The passages below -- drawn from the same set of Saudi texts proudly cited in the new 74-page review of curriculum reform now being distributed by the Saudi Embassy -- are shaping the views of the next generation of Saudis and Muslims worldwide. Unchanged, they will only harden and deepen hatred, intolerance and violence toward other faiths and cultures. Is this what Riyadh calls reform?

religion@freedomhouse.org

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."

Nina Shea is director of the Center for Religious Freedom at Freedom House.

Source and Copyright - http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/19/AR2006051901769_pf.html

 

Who is a Racist? NYT Article confirms Saudi texts are racist

A New York Times report confirms an earlier report in the Washington Post (see Anti-Semitism: Racist Saudi textbooks distributed in the United States) about racism in Saudi texts. The Saudi government has promised to clean up their texts, especially since 9-11, but "they are still working on it" it seems. The following quote seems to typify the thinking that promises to perpetuate the problem:

"What makes changing the curriculum so difficult is that the people are living in the middle of a conflict," he said. One of the easiest ways conservatives have of attacking him is to say he is serving America by demanding the change, he says.

"As we discuss change, they say, 'Look what America is doing to us, look what Israel is doing,' " he said.

Let's see if I got this right. Before 9-11, there was no pressure to change the texts, so they were not changed. After 9-11, there was pressure to change the texts, and the Saudis resented the pressure, so they won't change the texts. Do you see a problem here?

Ami Isseroff

Don't Be Friends With Christians or Jews, Saudi Texts Say

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/24/world/24saudi.html

By HASSAN FATTAH
Published: May 24, 2006

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, May 23 — Despite years of work aimed at changing Saudi Arabia's public school curriculum, the country's latest textbooks continue to promote intolerance of other religions, a new study said Tuesday.


A first-grade student is taught that "Every religion other than Islam is false"; the teacher instructed to "Give examples of false religions, like Judaism, Christianity, paganism, etc." Fifth graders learn "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."

Those lessons are among numerous examples cited in a controversial new study of Saudi Arabia's religious curriculum released Tuesday by the Center for Religious Freedom, part of Freedom House, a nonprofit group in Washington that seeks to encourage democracy. Despite official pronouncements that curriculum change is marching ahead, intolerance continues to pervade religious education in Saudi public schools, the report says.

"It is not hate speech here and there, it is an ideology that runs throughout," Nina Shea, the center's director and principal author of the report, said in a telephone interview from Washington. "It adds up to an argument, an ideology of us versus them."

The report's authors, who worked with the Institute for Gulf Affairs, a research group based in Washington that focuses on the Middle East, obtained 12 history and religion textbooks from parents of Saudi schoolchildren, and translated the texts. The textbooks were used last year in Saudi schools and Saudi-run schools in Washington, London, Paris and several other cities, the report said.

The results, they say, outline a systematic theme of "hatred toward 'unbelievers,' " mainly Christians, Jews, Hindus and atheists, but also Shiites and other Muslims who do not ascribe to the country's orthodox Wahhabi teaching of Islam.

Saudi Arabia's education system was heavily scrutinized after the Sept. 11 attacks, and criticized internationally for its extremism. Since then, the government has faced significant pressure from both inside and outside the country to change its schools. King Abdullah, the Saudi monarch, has made the reform a priority.

Religion is at the core of Saudi public education and can amount to one quarter to a third of class time. By the time Saudi students reach high school, that amount drops slightly to at least one period in six devoted to religious topics, including interpretation of holy texts, theology and morality. (The report looked solely at religion and history texts, and excluded books on other subjects like math and science.)

The findings contradict Saudi statements that educational materials have been revised, the report said.

Saudi officials acknowledged that acerbic language remains in Saudi textbooks, but said their revision was far from complete.

Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States, Prince Turki Al-Faisal, responding to an article by Ms. Shea in The Washington Post over the weekend, said in a statement Monday, "There are hundreds of books that are being revised to comply with the new requirements, and the process remains ongoing."

He added, "The objective of the educational system is to fight intolerance and to prepare Saudi youth with the skills and knowledge to compete in the global economy."

Saudi reformers note that if the latest textbooks are wanting, they are still a far cry from what they were five years ago. The Saudi public, said Muhammad al-Zulfa, a member of the consultative Shura council, say they are generally in favor of reforming textbooks and curriculum, but religious conservatives have stymied the effort.

"It is an uphill battle to revise the curriculum because the resistance by well-established conservative pockets is so fierce," Mr. Zulfa said.

One Saudi official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the issue's sensitivity, also cited religious conservatives. "We know what needs to be taken out," he said. "But it's not that easy to do it."

Hamza al-Mozainy, a professor of linguistics and a columnist who has campaigned for education reform, said the seeming clash between Islam and the West creates a tough environment for change.

"What makes changing the curriculum so difficult is that the people are living in the middle of a conflict," he said. One of the easiest ways conservatives have of attacking him is to say he is serving America by demanding the change, he says.

"As we discuss change, they say, 'Look what America is doing to us, look what Israel is doing,' " he said.

But even if the textbooks were changed, the effort might not amount to much unless the country's teachers were retrained, a far more difficult matter.

"The problem was not the textbooks, it was the mentality of a minority," said Hassan al-Ahdal, director general of the Muslim World League, a Saudi-based Islamic organization. "Some teachers or supervisors are projecting their own beliefs on the textbooks and are trying to convince their students, as if theirs is the real interpretation of the textbooks."

Abdulnabi Shaheen contributed reporting from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, for this article.

Ami Isseroff

 

Sources and Further Reading

Arab and Muslim anti-Semitism, Arab Anti-semitism 1997, Arab Anti-semitism 1998, Arab Anti-semitism 1999, Arab Anti-semitism 2001, Arab Anti-semitism 2002, Arab Anti-semitism 2003. Arab Anti-semitism 2004, Arab Anti-semitism 2005, Arab Anti-semitism 2006, Arab Anti-semitism 2007, Arab Anti-semitism 2008 . Anti-Zionist Quotes- Mahathir Muhammad  Speech 2003 , Racism in Saudi Texts, Jews and Muslims in Post-Israel Middle East - Azzam Tamimi

Cartoon Carnival - Anti-Semitic Cartoons in the Arab World

 

External Links

Hamas Charter

Islam and Tolerance

The Grand Mufi Hajj Amin El Husseini

Persecution of the Jews Under Islam

A history of Muslim antisemitism and anti-Zionism

The Salience of Islamic Antisemitism

Arab Anti-Semitism at Wikipedia

 Arab Anti-Semitism Documentation Project

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