Saudis Renege On Reform
Posted by ssbg on May 21, 2006
After 9/11, the Saudis publicly acknowledged that their education system promoted radicalism in Islam and indoctrinated hatred among their children from the earliest days of their schooling. The Saudis promised to reform their system, spending millions of dollars on expensive advertising campaigns in the US to paint themselves as friends to America and the West and promoting an image of reform and moderation. President Bush held hands (in the Arabic tradition) with a Saudi prince in order to help promote that image of friendship.
Did they actually reform that system? According to the Washington Post, nothing changed in the slightest:
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").
Instead of reviewing the texts of translations provided by the Saudi government, the Post and Freedom House received books smuggled out of the actual schools by Shi'ite, Sunni, and discontented Wahhabis. The books came through the Institute for Gulf Affairs, a think tank focusing on democratization in the Middle East. It demonstrates that the Saudis still plan on using obfuscation and misdirection in order to avoid responsibility for creating and maintaining the Islamist hatred that has inflamed the region and killed thousands of people around the world.
How else can one explain these passages from their educational curriculum?