U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday called on the Saudi government to stop distributing children's religious textbooks they said incited hatred and intolerance toward Jews, women and homosexuals.
The request by three Democratic legislators coincided with President Barack Obama's visit to Saudi Arabia and Egypt this week to shore up beleaguered U.S. relations with Muslims worldwide.
"This is not some rogue document," Congressman Anthony Weiner told reporters. "This is the position of the Saudi government ... If we're going to solve the generational conflicts, it's important not to hate one another."
His Democratic colleague, Shelley Berkley of Nevada, backed the move.
"We hope this will be part of the discussion President Obama has with the Saudi leaders," she said.
Weiner has long pushed for legislation barring the United States from providing financial aid to Saudi Arabia, once calling for the close U.S. ally to be placed on the U.S. list of terror-sponsoring states, joining the ranks of Iran, Syria and North Korea.
Calling Obama's visit to the region "an opportunity to turn a new page in US-Arab relations" in a letter sent to Obama Wednesday, Weiner asked the president to "urge (Saudi) King Abdullah to eliminate these hateful teaching from the classrooms and to work to improve the country's human rights record."
Citing teachings found in a handful of textbooks smuggled out of the birthplace of Islam with the help of U.S.-based Saudi dissident Ali al-Ahmed, the lawmakers said high school students were taught that "the hour (of judgment) will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them."
In another textbook, they said, students were told that "the blood money for a Muslim woman is half of the blood money for a male Muslim, and the blood money for an infidel woman is half of the blood money for a male infidel."
Students were also warned in a separate schoolbook that "the punishment for homosexuality is death," according to Weiner's office.
New York Congressman Joseph Crowley urged Saudi Arabia to bring its efforts to broker Middle East peace in line with its teachings of young people.
"We have, at one end, the Saudi government trying to position itself as peace block and yet at the same time, proffering books and textbooks to young people that instills hatred," he said.
"This type of hate speech has to stop."
Weiner was careful to stress that "language like this is not the teaching in the Quran. It's not the teaching of Islamic thought. This is an attempt, under the guise of Islamic teachings, to sow hate and to sow distrust."
Congress has examined alleged radical teachings in schools for Muslim children in the past.
In 2007, a congressionally-appointed panel found that some textbooks used at the Islamic Saudi Academy in Virginia, just outside the U.S. capital Washington, contained language that could incite violence and showed intolerance toward other religions.