Textbooks being used in a private Saudi school in Fairfax County contain material promoting violence and intolerance, a federal commission said Wednesday.
Several textbooks used at the Islamic Saudi Academy's main campus in Alexandria during the 2007-2008 school year contained passages that "do not conform to international human rights norms," the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom said.
Particularly alarming passages were discovered in a 12th-grade Tafsir (Koranic interpretation) textbook and a 12th-grade Tawhid (monotheism) textbook, both of which clearly exhort the reader to violence, the commission said.
Several passages in other textbooks promote intolerance toward members of the Ahmadi, Baha'i and Jewish faiths, as well as Shi'a Islam, according to the commission.
The textbooks were particularly disturbing because the private academy is operated by the Saudi government, commission spokeswoman Judith Ingram said.
"It's not just a private school," she said. "We feel that governments, of course, have the highest obligation not to promote incitement or intolerance."
Neither the director general of the school nor the Saudi Embassy could be reached for comment Wednesday.
In October, the panel recommended to the State Department that the academy be closed until it made textbooks open for public inspection and cut monetary ties with the Saudi government.
Academy personnel said in the fall that they revised the Saudi Ministry of Education textbooks used at the school, according to Wednesday's report. Ingram said that there were indications of revisions — cutting and pasting of passages, and words whited out — in the textbooks inspected by the commission.
"There appeared to be some changes to the texts," said Commissioner Leonard Leo. "However, there are a number of passages remaining that raise serious questions and concerns as to the teaching of intolerance and … incitement to violence."
Fairfax County supervisors two weeks ago extended the lease for the academy's main Richmond Highway branch for a year.
The State Department had not made public any of its findings as of Wednesday, according to Leo.