That the Islamic Saudi Academy in Alexandria, Va. has been slow to remove troubling textbooks that teach that the killing of adulterers and apostates is acceptable in Islam is beyond dispute.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) issued a report in June which highlighted a series of disturbing passages in textbooks used at the Academy. It also noted that investigators have been unable to obtain a complete set of textbooks from the school despite promises of cooperation. The State Department has its own set of books, but has refused to share them with the Commission.
Other books still in use during the past academic year claim polytheism "makes blood and wealth permissible," which, according to the USCIRF report:
"in Islamic legal terms means that a Muslim can take the life and property of someone believed to be guilty of this alleged transgression with impunity. (Tawhid, Arabic/Sharia, 15) Under the Saudi interpretation of Islam, ‘major polytheists' include Shi'a and Sufi Muslims, who visit the shrines of their saints to ask for intercession with God on their behalf, as well as Christians, Jews, Hindus, and Buddhists."
On Wednesday, the Hudson Institute detailed more troubling aspects of textbooks used by the Saudi Ministry of Education in a 90-page report, written in conjunction with the Washington-based Institute for Gulf Affairs. Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Washington leads the school's board of directors and the Saudi Embassy owns one of the school's two properties. The Hudson report finds violent and intolerant teachings against other religious believers are unchanged since they were exposed in 2006. According to the report:
They assert that unbelievers, such as Christians, Jews, and Muslims who do not share Wahhabi beliefs and practices, are hated "enemies." Global jihad as an "effort to wage war against the unbelievers" is also promoted in the Ministry's textbooks: "In its general usage, 'jihad' is divided into the following categories: ...Wrestling with the infidels by calling them to the faith and battling against them." No argument is made here that such references to jihad mean only spiritual and defensive struggles.
Lessons remain that Jews and Christians are apes and swine, Jews conspire to "gain sole control over the world," the Christian Crusades never ended, the American universities of Cairo and Beirut are part of the continuing Crusades, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion are historical fact, and on Judgment Day "the rocks or the trees" will call out to Muslims to kill the Jews.
But finding someone to take ownership of the issue is proving to be a challenge with no solution. Fairfax County's Board of Supervisors, which leases property to the school, punted to the State Department last month. State Department officials have been reluctant to exert any pressure to hasten any changes.
As the Washington Post reports, its own review of textbooks found one book that "still contained passages that extolled jihad and martyrdom, called for victory over one's enemies and said the killing of adulterers and apostates was ‘justified.'"
Now, U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) has written a second letter to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, urging her to act. Wolf never received a response to his first letter, written June 24. The Post reports that Fairfax County's letter was met with equal silence at State. Wolf wants Rice to have State Department officials meet with the USCIRF to review the textbooks that the State Department possesses. Wolf writes:
With the start of the 2008 school year rapidly approaching, the timely resolution of this matter is of the utmost importance. If, in fact, the students at ISA are not being taught or exposed to texts that incite hatred and intolerance, then in all fairness to them and to the teachers and parents associated with the Academy, the cloud of suspicion presently surrounding the school should be lifted. If, however, the content of the textbooks is consistent with USCIRF's findings outlined in its June 11 report, then urgent action is required. Both scenarios require State Department involvement, in collaboration with USCIRF.
Wolf, the ranking member of the State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee, which oversees the State Department and other international efforts, also asked Secretary Rice:
"If we can not be certain of what is being taught here at home in Saudi-affiliated schools, how can we take seriously their claims that the radical Wahhabi interpretation of Islam, which they have been known to propagate in educational institutions globally, is a thing of the past."
Congressman Wolf raises a very important question which deserves an answer, as do the other concerns he raises in both of his letters.