Commission recommends closing Islamic Saudi Academy
(Christian Action Network) Fairfax Co. Virginia – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom is looking to parents and alumni of Islamic Saudi Academy to help gather all its curriculum information together – the Saudi embassy is not cooperating, a spokesperson said Tuesday, Oct. 23.
The commission recommended the U.S. State Department open diplomatic talks with the Saudi government in order to obtain official Saudi textbooks used at the government-run school near Washington D.C., and close the academy locations until the official Saudi textbooks are available for a “comprehensive public examination.”
The commission sought assurances from Saudi Arabia indicating problem texts were revised per prior agreements for full cooperation to eliminate language that includes religious intolerance, meaning jihadist calls for warfare and violence against so-called infidels.
“We are still hoping to see the textbooks that are being used,” Commission Communications Director Judith Ingram said. “That is still our greatest interest here: we see no evidence that they have been revised.”
Ingram noted a commission-led delegation to Saudi Arabia obtained a policy statement from their government promising to revise official school textbooks, removing material that “promotes hatred and intolerance.”
“I am still getting many calls from parents, and letters from alumni – the curriculum materials we’ve received came from families of children who had attended,” Ingram said. “I’d certainly encourage parents and families to help out by furnishing more curriculum materials – if we can’t obtain them from the Saudi embassy, perhaps we will have to look to other sources.”
Information so far includes background studies in Saudi state curriculum from a 2003 study headed by a Saudi judge and a Saudi journalist, stating boys are taught “In order to safeguard their own religion, they must violently repress and even physically eliminate the ‘other’.”
“There are passages in the various Tawhid editions stating that the blood and property of polytheists may be taken by Muslims,” the report states. “What remains then, is a principle of behavior sanctioning the murder of those with whom one disagrees.”
“According to the academy’s brochure, the Islamic Saudi Academy uses Saudi government curriculum, syllabus and materials,” Ingram said.
A 2006 report analyzing textbooks for the 2005-06 school year found, “a ninth-grade Saudi textbook on Hadith teaches teenagers in apocalyptic terms that violence towards Jews, Christians and other unbelievers is sanctioned by God,” the commission report stated.
One quoted textbook reads, “The hour of judgment will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them.”
Another example, “Jihad in the path of God,” a grade-12 textbook, is a primer on “battling against unbelief, oppression, injustice and those who perpetrate it” as the summit of Islam.
It clarifies a meaning of jihad as self-perfection, or “wrestling in the spirit,” is a part of jihad, but jihad is acknowledged for its militant core meaning.
Ingram said the Saudi government has refused requests over several years, yet its operations are covered by the Foreign Missions Act, and the Islamic Saudi Academy operations are also due to the Saudi government’s ownership of the school.
She added the President and/or State Department could take action based on the school’s status as a non-diplomatic activity of the embassy. “The non-diplomatic activities of the Islamic Saudi Academy cannot be conducted by and through an embassy,” she said.
Ingram said she recommends the Bush Administration and State Department to conclude discussions within a 90-day period and prepare further actions if needed. If textbooks are released, they should be thoroughly examined, she added.
On the table is a further recommendation to have the academy closed, especially if Saudi leaders continue to rebuff diplomatic discussions and the 90-day timeframe passes.
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