Panel Findings: Islamic Saudi Academy Textbooks Promote Hatred, Intolerance, and Violence
Hot on the heels of my column yesterday, "Islam in America's Public Schools: Education or Indoctrination?," which included mention of the Islamic Saudi Academy (ISA) in Fairfax, Virginia, comes news that the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has released its findings from a review of the school's textbooks and found that they promote hatred, intolerance, and violence. As reported by the Associated Press:
-The authors of a 12th-grade text on Koranic interpretation state that apostates (those who convert from Islam), adulterers and people who murder Muslims can be permissibly killed.Lovely stuff, but par for the course for the Saudi government-run school, which has been operating as a base for radical indoctrination and Wahhabi influence within the United States for years - and all under the seeming protection of the State Department.
-The authors of a 12th-grade text on monotheism write that "(m)ajor polytheism makes blood and wealth permissible," meaning that a Muslim can take with impunity the life and property of someone believed guilty of polytheism. According to the panel, the strict Saudi interpretation of polytheism includes Shiite and Sufi Muslims as well as Christians, Jews, Hindus, and Buddhists.
-A social studies text offers the view that Jews were responsible for the split between Sunni and Shiite Muslims: "The cause of the discord: The Jews conspired against Islam and its people. A sly, wicked person who sinfully and deceitfully professed Islam infiltrated (the Muslims)."
More generally, the panel found that the academy textbooks hold the view that the Muslim world was strong when united under a single caliph, the Arabic language and the Sunni creed, and that Muslims have grown weak because of foreign influence and internal divisions.
Meanwhile, ISA has turned out star students such as 1999 valedictorian, Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, who was convicted for a terrorist plot to assassinate President Bush in 2005.
More recently, ISA was the location for an Arabic as a Second Language program, including lessons on "Middle Eastern culture and traditions," with the pupils being none other than U.S. soldiers from nearby Fort Belvoir. Incredibly, Fort Belvoir has a partnership with ISA and the school's Arabic language program has received a commendation from the U.S. military. Last month's blog post on that story, as well as ISA's troubled history, can be read here.
Getting back to the issue of textbooks, the reason I included ISA in my column on the problematic aspects of teaching Islam and Islamic history in America's public schools, is the involvement of former ISA social studies teacher (her husband still teaches there), Susan Douglass, in approving such texts via the ideologically suspect Council on Islamic Education. In addition, as an "education consultant" for the Saudi-funded Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, Douglass is in charge of the center's "professional development workshops" for training K-12 teachers. Neither inspires confidence in our educational system.
As this "six degrees of separation" scenario makes clear, ISA is just one arm of a many-tentacled, pernicious Saudi presence in the United States whose casualties, if we're not careful, will include future generations.
That's why the recent findings of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom are so important. But it's now up to our federal government to do something about it. As the New York Sun puts it:
Update: A condensed version of this item has been cross-posted at the Campus Watch blog.
For the Saudi government to burden its own youth with this sort of poisonous nonsense is deplorable. For them to do it inside America is even worse. The Commission has performed a service by calling the matter to public attention. The next step is for the Bush administration to make it a priority in our diplomatic dialogue with the Saudis.
Update (6/13): The Washington Times reports that (surprise, surprise) the State Department has no intention of closing ISA down. Instead, they're giving school officials until the start of the 2008 school year to revise the abhorrent textbooks. Here's State Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos:
"For several years we've engaged the Saudi government on the need to eliminate intolerant references toward other religious groups in textbooks and other educational materials used in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere....And we'll continue to work with the Saudi government in efforts to revise the textbooks."In other words, don't hold your breath....