Why is the Islamic Saudi Academy Accredited by SACS?

June 17, 2008 at 10:17 am | Posted in Shariah | 1 Comment

At its homepage, the Islamic Saudi Academy asserts the following in the top paragraph:

ISA is fully accredited with SACS (Southern Association Of Colleges And Schools) and with CITA (Commission for International and Trans Regional Accreditation).

But scroll down on the same ISA homepage to read the following carefully worded statement:

On Tuesday, November 15, 2005, The Islamic Saudi Academy (ISA) achieved SACS Standards and received re-accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools for 2005-2006. The Islamic Saudi Academy (ISA) is proud of this achievement and progress with the goals established during the past five years. ISA will continue to provide a superlative education for every student by delivering a college-preparatory curriculum and a variety of extra-curricular opportunities. The Academy will also adhere to the Action Plan set forth in the self-Study and implement the recommendations by the SACS quality assurance team.

Here are some questions raised by the assertion that the ISA is “fully accredited with SACS…and with CITA.” This claimed accreditation may be a major reason that many parents – from the Saudi Embassy, the embassies of other countries, and the Washington D.C. region – are sending their children to this highly troubling Saudi Arabian Embassy-run school.

1) The statement says merely that the ISA received re-accreditation for 2005-2006. Does this mean that it subsequently lost this accreditation for 2007 and 2008? If so, can the school explain the statement that it is “fully accredited”?

2) If the ISA lost accreditation after the 2005-2006 accreditation, what are SACS legal obligations to inform the public?

3) What is in the “Action Plan set forth in the self-Study and …the recommendations by the SACS quality assurance team”? Given the highly troubling and unique nature of this school, especially its history of problems with the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, the Fairfax Police, and U.S. Department of Homeland Security, does SACS have any legal obligation to the Fairfax County community to inform them of these recommendations by the SACS quality assurance team?

4) IF – if – the ISA has a current accreditation, why has SACS maintained that accreditation in view of the recent disclosures about the extremist textbooks at the ISA, the recent arrest of the ISA director, and the recent upholding of the conviction for a prior valedictorian of the school on terrorism charges?

5) Does the SACS provide any means for Fairfax County citizens or any other citizens to request a revocation of the ISA accreditation?

6) Do all parents at the school – and universities accepting students from the school – know about the highly problematic nature of the Saudi-enforced Wahhabist curricula there, and the problems with the Director’s arrest, the alleged cover-up of sexual abuse of a student, and the prior connections to terrorism? Given the very high quality of alternatives to the ISA – excellent public and private schools in the Washington, DC area and particularly in northern Virginia –  is it not a disservice to parents, students and universities who might accept those students NOT to disclose fully these serious and material risks?

7) Could U.S. citizens reasonably argue that they have an interest in preventing Saudi shariah law – a seditious and barbaric theo-political legal ideology and legal system enforced in Iran, Sudan, Saudi Arabia and in part in other Islamic states – being enforced in any way in the United States? If so, can they also argue that by continuing to accredit the Islamic Saudi Academy, the SACS is supporting and indeed promoting the imposition of Shariah Law by the Saudi Arabian embassy in Fairfax County, Virginia, as demonstrated in the Shariah-compliant statements in the ISA textbooks reviewed by the independent U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom?  The ISA website states that “Students returning to the Middle East after high school are taught a Saudi Curriculum in Arabic language.”  Does the SACS have an obligation to disclose to parents and students if that “Saudi Curriculum” is Shariah-compliant, and to disclose the facts about Shariah law?

8) Could U.S. citizens reasonably argue that SACS accreditation facilitates the enforcement of Shariah law by school officials, including Shariah-compliant practices which are equivalent to child abuse under U.S. laws? Saudi shariah judges issue fatwas – legal decisions – and shariah-compliant authorities claim that these take precedence over the Constitutional laws of western democracies. Many fatwas have been issued concerning the right to marry or have sexual relations with very young girls within Islam, before the age of puberty: see for example, this fatwa on “Child Marriage in Islam” from 2004. See also this fatwa from Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Baz, the former head of the official Saudi Council of Senior Ulema (scholars):

The o­nly exception [to a prohibition against forced marriage] is in the case of the father and his daughter who is less than nine years of age. There is no harm if he gets her married while she is less than nine years old, according to the correct opinion. This is based o­n the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) marrying Aisha without her consent when she was less than nine years old, as is stated in authentic Hadith.

Therefore, the Director of the Islamic Saudi Academy may have simply been complying with Shariah law when he refused to report a 5 year old girl’s reports of sexual abuse to local authorities, resulting in his arrest last week by Fairfax police.  The issue of sexual abuse of children in Islamic madrassas is worldwide, as evidenced in this official report by Muslim leaders in Great Britain from 2006.

What is the SACS accreditation policy on Shariah-compliant forced marriage for girls younger than 9 years of age, and specifically on the highly respected Saudi Arabian sheikh’s fatwa on this topic?

A recommendation: If SACS has continued to accredit the ISA, they should revoke that accreditation immediately based on imminent danger to students due to enforcement of Shariah law by school officials, the indoctrination of students with materials inciting violence against non-Muslims, and the gender apartheid that is central to the teaching of Shariah law in the Saudi Arabian curricula, as well as continuing problems raised with the Saudi Arabian governance and funding of the school identical to those that resulted in the revocation of accreditation previously in 2002.

And if SACS has in fact not continued to accredit the ISA, that information should be disclosed to parents, students, community officials such as the Fairfax Board of Supervisors, and universities receiving the applications of ISA students, as well as being prominently displayed at the ISA and SACS websites.

Contact SACS to alert them to the problems with the ISA:

Virginia Office:

Virginia Office of SACS CASI
Hilda Kelly, Director
Radford University
Box 7007
Radford, VA 24142
540.831.5399
540.831.6309 (fax)
www.advanc-ed.org/virginia

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  1. On Tuesday, November 15, 2005, The Islamic Saudi Academy (ISA) achieved SACS Standards and received re-accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools for 2005-2006.

    AFTER the bus accident of April 2005!


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