Protestors angrily called for the closure of the Islamic Saudi Academy in Alexandria Tuesday after the director of the Saudi government-controlled school was arrested June 9 for failing to report child abuse.
Last week's arrest of Abdalla I. Al-Shabnan, the school's director, came after a U.S. religious-freedom panel reviewed textbooks and other materials from the school and issued a statement two days later that the school uses textbooks that explicitly promote violence and intolerance of other religions.
Al-Shabnan, 52, of McLean, has been charged by Fairfax County Police with a misdemeanor and obstruction of justice. The police accuse him of covering up an incident in which a five-year-old girl attending the school reported that she was being sexually abused by her father.
Al-Shabnan told police investigators that he didn't believe the girl, and advised the girl's parents to put her into counseling. The police also allege that Al-Shabnan ordered that a written report about the girl's complaint be deleted from a school computer.
Virginia state law requires that school authorities report alleged child abuse within 72 hours of learning of the allegation. Al-Shabnan is free pending his trial.
The charges against Al-Shabnan prompted at least a dozen protestors to come out Tuesday morning to call for a federal investigation of its teachings, which they say teach violence and hate. As children filed into the school, protestors waved signs that read "Saudi hate is not an American family value," and "Islamic Shariah teaches violence and hate."
Andrea Lafferty, the executive director of the Washington-based Traditional Values Coalition, said that the academy is "a virtual one-stop shopping center for law enforcement."
"We came out here today to lift the veil of deception," Lafferty said. "They're raising homegrown terrorists here."
Lafferty cited as a case in point a former school valedictorian, Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, who was convicted of joining al-Qaida after leaving the school and plotting to assassinate President Bush, and that a former finance director of the school was arrested taping close-up videotapes of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in 2004, which police thought might be used in a possible terrorist attack.
"There are so many dots like these to be connected," Lafferty said. "The school teaches the radical form of Wahabi which teaches them the only way to elevate Islam is to repress others. These children are locked in a prison. I would tell my own son that it's wrong to kill someone. But they teach that it's okay to kill certain types of people, like adulterers. We don't think children should be educated like this in a county-owned building."