Saudi Arabia: Fueling religious persecution and extremism

December 17, 2010 10:56

Saudi Arabia spends three times as much in exporting its Wahhabi ideology as did the Soviets in propagating Communism during the height of the Cold War. [And our anti-oil drilling policies help them fund it]

By Nina Shea at Center for Security Policy


As the controlling authority of the two holiest shrines of Islam, Saudi Arabia is able to disseminate its religious materials among the millions of Muslims making the hajj to Mecca each year. Such teachings can, in this context, make a great impression. In addition, Saudi textbooks are also posted on the Saudi Education Ministry’s website and are shipped and distributed free by a vast Sunni infrastructure established with Saudi oil wealth to many Muslim schools, mosques and libraries throughout the world.

They teach, along with many other noxious lessons, that Jews and Christians are “enemies,” and they dogmatically instruct that that it is permissible, even obligatory, to kill various groups of “unbelievers” – apostates (which includes Muslim moderates who reject Saudi Wahhabi doctrine), polytheists (which can include Shias and Sufis, as well as Christians, Hindus, and Buddhists.), Jews, and adulterers. The texts also teach that the “punishment for homosexuality is death” and discusses that this can be done by immolation by fire, stoning or throwing the accused from a high place.

Under the Saudi Education Ministry’s method of rote learning, these teachings amount to indoctrination, starting in first grade and continuing through high school, where militant jihad on behalf of “truth” has for years been taught as a sacred duty.

The “lesson goals” of one of the text books is to have the children list the “reprehensible” qualities of Jewish people and another, that Jews are pigs and apes.

Reformist Muslims can also be labeled as “apostates,” and thus they can be killed with impunity.

Saudi government misrepresentations on its failure to reform national textbooks was in full display last month in the BBC Panorama’s expose of  40 Saudi part time schools in the UK, where it tried to deny that the schools were in any way connected to Riyadh.  The television journalists investigated and found that in fact the Saudi Cultural Bureau, which is part of the embassy, did indeed have authority over the network  To be clear, these 40 Saudi schools in the UK teach from the Saudi national curriculum, which was revealed on the show to include the lessons on killing apostates, polytheists and homosexuals, as well as on violent anti-Semitism.

The State Department needs to begin regular and detail reporting on the remaining objectionable and violent passages in Saudi government textbooks and to press in a sustained manner for the kingdom to keep its 2006 pledge to us regarding textbook reform.  As USCIRF recommends, the administration should also lift the indefinite waiver of any action pursuant to the designation of Saudi Arabia as a “Country of Particular Concern” under the International Religious Freedom Act – the only “CPC” to receive an indefinite waiver.


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