A Saudi-funded K-12 school in Fairfax, Virginia has been recommended closed by a federal panel until the U.S. can be reassured the school isn't teaching jihad.
Feds Recommend Closing Saudi School in Va.
McLEAN, Va. (AP) - A private Islamic school supported by the Saudi government should be shut down until the U.S. government can ensure the school is not fostering radical Islam, a federal panel recommends.
In a report released Thursday, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom broadly criticized what it calls a lack of religious freedom in Saudi society and promotion of religious extremism at Saudi schools.
Particular criticism is leveled at the Islamic Saudi Academy, a private school serving nearly 1,000 students in grades K-12 at two campuses in northern Virginia's Fairfax County.
The commission's report says the academy hews closely to the curriculum used at Saudi schools, which they criticize for promoting hatred of and intolerance against Jews, Christians and Shiite Muslims.
"Significant concerns remain about whether what is being taught at the ISA promotes religious intolerance and may adversely affect the interests of the United States," the report states.
The commission, a creation of Congress, has no power to implement policy on its own. Instead, it makes recommendations to other agencies.
The commission does not offer specific criticism of the academy's teachings beyond its concerns that it too closely mimics a typical Saudi education.
The report recommends that the State Department prevail on the Saudi government to shut the school down until the school's textbooks can be reviewed and procedures are put in place to ensure the school's independence form the Saudi Embassy.
Well, it isn't exactly right that the commission doesn't offer specific criticisms. The report makes clear that the ISN is but an "American case in point" of what the Commission sees as Saudi "exportation of extremism":
The Commission has raised concerns for many years that the Saudi government and members of the royal family directly and indirectly fund the global propagation of an ideology which promotes hatred, intolerance, and other human rights abuses, including violence. The concern is not about the propagation of Islam per se, but the Saudi government's version if Islam promotes abuses of human rights, including violent acts, against non-Muslims and disfavored Muslims.
Studies in 2003 and 2006 of the Saudi state curricula, which are exported for use worldwide in mosques and schools, including at the ISN,
found that the approach used in the texts "encourages violence towards others, and misguides the pupils into believing that in order to safeguard their religion, they must violently repress and even physically eliminate the 'other.' They cited examples found in the textbooks, such as "the blood and property of the polytheists are permitted" and "there is no prohibition on spilling their [polytheists] blood." Furthermore, one scholar who examined "revised" state religious textbooks concluded that "there are passages in the various Tawhid editions stating that the blood and property of polytheists may be taken by Muslims, and these pasages have been contextualized, but not removed...What remains then, is a principle of behavior sanctioning the murder of those with whom one disagrees."
As long as the U.S. government has been bringing the objectionable nature of these textbooks to the attention of the Saudi government, the Saudis have been promising that they've "revised" the texts to cure the offending passages, but have always refused to produce the books for inpsection to show they've been cleaned up. In spite of Saudi claims, the Commission, and Freedom House, which has been a leader in pressing for the Saudi government to properly revise these materials, both reported that as of last year no meaningful revisions had been made. For example,
a 2006 report analyzing some Saudi textbooks from the 2005-2006 school year found that "a ninth grade Saudi textbook on Hadith teaches teenagers in apocolyptic terms that violence towards Jews, Christians and other unbelievers is sanctioned by God." For example, the textbook reads, "the hour [of judghment] will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them." Another example taken from a twelfth grade textbook reads, "Jihad in the path of God--which consists of battling [Arabic, qital] against unbelief, oppression, injustice, and those who perpetrate it--is the summit of Islam." The study concludes that "while, as the text explains, one of the meanings of jihad is self-perfection or "'wrestling with the spirit' it acknowledges a more militant meaning as well.'" This state-driven disregard for freedom of religion not only violates international human rights standards, but also serves to embolden radical Islamists who seek to perpetrate acts of terrorism and other violence on Americans and others around the world.
Freedom House additionally reports that the Saudi textbooks teach The protocols of the Elders of Zion as historical fact as well as teaching "that 'Jews and the Christians are enemies of the [Muslim] believers'...that 'the clash" between the two realms is perpetual; Instruct students not to 'greet,' 'befriend,' 'imitate,' 'show loyalty to,' 'be courteous to,' or 'respect' non-believers; [and] Assert that the spread of Islam through jihad is a 'religious duty.'"
We know the ISN managed to produce at least one student who took these lessons seriously. According to the AP article,
After the Sept. 11 attacks, critics questioned the nature of the religious education at the Saudi academy. The school again found itself in the spotlight in 2005, when a former class valedictorian, Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, was charged with joining al-Qaida while attending college in Saudi Arabia and plotting to assassinate President Bush. Abu Ali was convicted in federal court and sentenced to 30 years in prison.
What do you bet Ahmed was able to get through his valedictory speech without having his mike cut off for talking about religion?
ISN teaches a thousand kids at a time.