Saturday, June 10, 2006

Arab News: Other countrys' textbooks no better than ours

Arab News is carrying a rather feeble response to the Washington Post's expose on Saudi school text books. Rather than refute the charges leveled in the WaPo piece, the writer, Tanya Hsu, takes a grade-school "I know you are, but what am I?" stance in her column. Well, that's not entirely fair. She does attempt to redefine the word Infidel by quoting a representative of the World Association of Muslim Youth:
“[T]he textbooks instruct students that Christians and Jews are apes and pigs,” claims Freedom House — a gross mistranslation of Qu’ran Surah 5 Verse 60. “Infidel in Arabic is “kafir”,” Dr. Saleh Al-Wohaibi of the World Association of Muslim Youth told me. “The correct definition of kafir is “disbeliever” in the sense of covering the truth, as a farmer who “covers the seed” with soil. Infidel (kafir) simply means “one who covers the truth of the word of God as revealed in the Holy Qu’ran."
Excuse me, but, what? Are we to believe that infidel really means farmer? So I guess the Qu'ran really exhorts good Muslims to "slay the farmer whereever you find him". Small wonder that there's so little successful agriculture in Islamic countries.

So instead of providing evidence that the charges in the WaPo article are false, Hsu provides the following in defense of the Kingdom's school texts:
The books they studied amounted to twelve in total. Out of 25,000 public schools, a dozen or more books per grade per year, hundreds of pages per book and hundreds of thousands of words, Freedom House found a few words objectionable.
Correct...twelve books. Approximately one book of religious instruction per grade 1st through 12th. And here's a sampling of the "few" objectionable words from the Post article:

" Every religion other than Islam is false."

"Fill in the blanks with the appropriate words (Islam, hellfire): Every religion other than ______________ is false. Whoever dies outside of Islam enters ____________."


"True belief means . . . that you hate the polytheists and infidels but do not treat them unjustly."


"Whoever obeys the Prophet and accepts the oneness of God cannot maintain a loyal friendship with those who oppose God and His Prophet, even if they are his closest relatives."

"It is forbidden for a Muslim to be a loyal friend to someone who does not believe in God and His Prophet, or someone who fights the religion of Islam."

"A Muslim, even if he lives far away, is your brother in religion. Someone who opposes God, even if he is your brother by family tie, is your enemy in religion."


"Just as Muslims were successful in the past when they came together in a sincere endeavor to evict the Christian crusaders from Palestine, so will the Arabs and Muslims emerge victorious, God willing, against the Jews and their allies if they stand together and fight a true jihad for God, for this is within God's power."


"As cited in Ibn Abbas: The apes are Jews, the people of the Sabbath; while the swine are the Christians, the infidels of the communion of Jesus."

"God told His Prophet, Muhammad, about the Jews, who learned from parts of God's book [the Torah and the Gospels] that God alone is worthy of worship. Despite this, they espouse falsehood through idol-worship, soothsaying, and sorcery. In doing so, they obey the devil. They prefer the people of falsehood to the people of the truth out of envy and hostility. This earns them condemnation and is a warning to us not to do as they did."

"They are the Jews, whom God has cursed and with whom He is so angry that He will never again be satisfied [with them]."

"Some of the people of the Sabbath were punished by being turned into apes and swine. Some of them were made to worship the devil, and not God, through consecration, sacrifice, prayer, appeals for help, and other types of worship. Some of the Jews worship the devil. Likewise, some members of this nation worship the devil, and not God."

"Activity: The student writes a composition on the danger of imitating the infidels."


"The clash between this [Muslim] community (umma) and the Jews and Christians has endured, and it will continue as long as God wills."

"It is part of God's wisdom that the struggle between the Muslim and the Jews should continue until the hour [of judgment]."

"Muslims will triumph because they are right. He who is right is always victorious, even if most people are against him."


The 10th-grade text on jurisprudence teaches that life for non-Muslims (as well as women, and, by implication, slaves) is worth a fraction of that of a "free Muslim male." Blood money is retribution paid to the victim or the victim's heirs for murder or injury:

"Blood money for a free infidel. [Its quantity] is half of the blood money for a male Muslim, whether or not he is 'of the book' or not 'of the book' (such as a pagan, Zoroastrian, etc.).

"Blood money for a woman: Half of the blood money for a man, in accordance with his religion. 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."


"The greeting 'Peace be upon you' is specifically for believers. It cannot be said to others."

"If one comes to a place where there is a mixture of Muslims and infidels, one should offer a greeting intended for the Muslims."

"Do not yield to them [Christians and Jews] on a narrow road out of honor and respect."


"Jihad in the path of God -- which consists of battling against unbelief, oppression, injustice, and those who perpetrate it -- is the summit of Islam. This religion arose through jihad and through jihad was its banner raised high. It is one of the noblest acts, which brings one closer to God, and one of the most magnificent acts of obedience to God."

Except for Hsu's mendacious redefinition of Infidel, the article does nothing to say the charges in WaPo's article are not valid. As if to invalidate the charges, she says:

What they did not reveal is that no one bothered to ask Saudi Minister of Education Dr. Abdullah Al-Obeid. There were no requests made for copies of the textbooks, and in fact, there never have been any such demands by anyone in the US government for such materials.

Shea and Al-Ahmed state that because Saudi Arabia is such a closed society, the books had to be “smuggled out” by Al-Ahmed. Quite James Bond, presumably under the cover of darkness.
She goes on to lash out at American history lessons and textbooks with unsubstantiated and /or irrelevant charges:
American schoolbooks today teach that Columbus was a discoverer and hero, but he was the 15th to “find” America and actually left a legacy of mass murder behind in Haiti, reducing the population from 8 million to zero within 100 years. History classes omit how George Washington was a designated terrorist per the British. The Alamo was fought for the right to maintain slaves, President Woodrow Wilson was an avowed racist and anti-Semite, and Warren Harding ascended the presidency with mass support from the Ku Klux Klan. And three quarters of Americans still can’t find Iraq on a map. Let’s not worry about textbooks in Israel or America — let’s talk about “Wahhabi” madrasas breeding terrorists and change another nation’s education system first.
Nothing Hsu writes changes the fact that Saudi children are being inculcated at a very early age to hate non-Muslims.

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