For years, the Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom, the Institute for Gulf Affairs, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, and various Washington Post journalists have been documenting the fact that the Islamic Saudi Academy (ISA) in northern Virginia — a school founded, funded, and controlled by the Saudi embassy — was teaching religious hatred and violence. More precisely, the Saudi Academy used Saudi Ministry of Education textbooks that sanction what is known in the United States as murder against Jews, adulterers, homosexuals, and converts from Islam, and that encourage Muslims to break various other American laws. The Saudi Academy is now putting out the word that its textbooks have been "revised." Should we declare victory and move on? Not so fast.
The Associated Press, which ran a story this week headlined "Saudi Academy in Virginia Revises Islamic History Books," relies on quotes from three individuals who give the academys new textbooks a Good Housekeeping seal of approval: Academy director Abdulrahman Alghofaili, Brown University visiting fellow Eleanor Doumato, and University of North Carolina anthropology professor Gregory Starrett. As AP makes clear, all three were paid by the Islamic Saudi Academy to review the textbooks.
A fourth commentator quoted in the AP report, Ali Ahmed, who is the president of the Gulf Institute and who is not funded by the Saudis, gives a somewhat different assessment. As the AP reporter paraphrases, "The revised texts now being used at ISA make some small improvements in tone. But he said it's clear from the books that the core ideology behind them — a puritanical strain of Islam known as Wahhabism that is dominant within Saudi Arabia — remains intact."