WASHINGTON — The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom is singling out a Saudi-run school in northern Virginia for teaching its students Islamic supremacism.
The bipartisan commission, which obtained copies of the Islamic Saudi Academy's textbooks from a congressional office and other private sources after the State Department's refusal to hand them over, released a summary of its findings yesterday. The move comes ahead of a deadline next month, agreed on by America and Saudi Arabia, for the school to revise its textbooks and delete references that "disparage Muslims or non-Muslims or that promote hatred toward other religions or religious groups."
According to the commission's report, however, the textbooks the academy is using this school year are exhorting Muslims to violence.
"The most problematic texts involve passages that are not directly from the Koran but rather contain the Saudi government's particular interpretation of Koranic and other Islamic texts," the report says.
Some examples cited include a 12th-grade textbook in Koranic interpretation that says it is "permissible to kill an apostate, an adulterer or someone who has murdered a believer intentionally."
Such beliefs are hallmarks of the Salafi strain of Sunni Islam, which is Saudi Arabia's state religion. The religious interpretation that says it is permissible to steal from or kill apostates is part of the philosophy of Takfir, which distinguishes between true believers and non-believers and permits the believer to violate domestic laws in order to defend the faith.
The textbooks in the 900-student, K-12 academy also contain bigotry against other religious faiths, the commission says. A textbook on administrative and social sciences, for example, says: "The cause of the discord: The Jews conspired against Islam and its people. A sly, wicked person who sinfully and deceitfully professed Islam infiltrated" the Muslims. The same textbook urges Sunni Muslims to shun Shiite Muslims.
A textbook on "Aspects of Muslim Political and Cultural History" has this to say about the Baha'i faith: "It is one of the destructive esoteric sects in the modern age. ... It has become clear that Babism [the precursor to Baha'ism], Baha'ism, and Qadyanism [Ahmadism] represent wayward forces inside the Islamic world that seek to strike it from within and weaken it."
The commission also says that when its members visited Saudi Arabia in 2007, the kingdom refused to make any of its textbooks available. Although the commission notes that Saudi Arabia's textbooks have improved somewhat, it says far more needs to be done.
The commission has been clashing with the Islamic Saudi Academy, whose two campuses are owned or leased by the Saudi Embassy in Washington, for nearly a year.
Academy spokesmen have said in the past that they have complied with requests to revise their textbooks. But the commission says: "The books reviewed by the Commission in the winter of 2007-2008 show evidence of truncation, omission, cutting and pasting, and the use of correction tape or fluid to cover over text — but not sufficient revision to remove all objectionable material, as evidenced by the passages cited above. They appear to be Saudi Ministry of Education textbooks, with some alterations but with identical wording in many sections of the texts."