Despite a promise to remove attacks on other faiths from the public school curriculum, Saudi Arabia’s state-produced textbooks still refer to Jews and Christians as apes and swine, insist that Jews conspire to take over the world and on Judgment Day “the rocks or the trees” will call out to Muslims to kill the Jews, says the Washington-based Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank.
The textbooks, used by five million students in the kingdom every year, as well as in many Saudi-funded institutions outside the country, also attack homosexuals and Muslims who do not practice a fundamentalist form of Islam.
• “The punishment for homosexuality is death. The companions of the Prophet were unanimous on killing although they differed … in the manner of killing. Some companions … stated that a homosexual is to be burned with fire … he should be stoned or thrown from a high place.”
• “You can hardly find an example of sedition in which the Jews have not played a role.”
• Zionism has achieved its aims through a variety of “destructive movements” including the Rotary Clubs and International Lions Clubs, which are “Masonic clubs based in America and they have secret agents all over the world.”
One of the suggested activities for Grade 8 students is to “write a composition on the danger of imitating infidels, giving some examples of imitation among the students and then present it to his classmates.”
Nina Shea, author of the report, Saudi Arabia’s Curriculum of Intolerance, said the deeper problem the textbooks represent is a noxious ideology that is being exported all over the world.
“This ideology is kindling to [Osama] bin Laden’s match,” she said.
“It radicalizes those who are indoctrinated with it. The aim is to radicalize students to hate the West, hate non-Muslims, to hate Jews, and to say that killing is sanctioned by God.
“Saudi Arabia is making every effort to make it mainstream in the Muslim world and make it the dominant interpretation of Islam.”
She said the Saudi education system is the main reason Web sites designed to recruit suicide bombers are directed so heavily at Saudi youth.
The ultra-conservative Sunni kingdom practises a form of Islam called Wahhabism, which advocates jihad.
Ms. Shea, who produced her first report on the textbooks in 2006, said Saudi Arabia agreed to make changes after pressure from the United States. The deadline is September, 2008.
“[The State Department] had to look like we’re doing something in the face of this really toxic teaching,” she said.
“It’s so indefensible and so inexplicable that this is being disseminated. It’s not even private clerics or an enemy who is disseminating this. This is our ally.”
The international human rights lawyer said her latest study looked at the textbooks used in the 2007-08 school year. But she found little difference from the books studied for her first report and does not believe the Saudis will meet the September deadline.
Rather, she believes they agreed to make the changes as a “publicity ploy.”
“They want to take some of the pressure off by promising to make the changes ,but they are fairly confident that the State Department will not go after them and will not even bother to open the books or translate them, which they have not done at all.”
And when a new president enters the White House in January, the agreement will likely be forgotten, she said.
Ms. Shea believes Americans give Saudi Arabia an easy ride because of their country’s dependence on foreign oil.
“Oil independence is really important for this reason. Because it’s going to be very hard for the Saudis to change.”
Officials at the Saudi embassy in Washington, D.C., declined to comment.