First Published: 2009-06-04

 
US lawmakers slam Saudi for teaching 'hatred'
 

Democratic legislators urge Saudi government to eliminate hateful teaching from classrooms.

 

Middle East Online

'It's not the teaching of Islamic thought'

WASHINGTON - US lawmakers on Wednesday called on the Saudi government to stop distributing children's religious textbooks they claimed incited hatred and intolerance toward Jews, women and homosexuals, although such alleged incitements are present in interpretations of Christianity and Judaism.

The request by three Democratic legislators coincided with President Barack Obama's visit to Saudi Arabia and Egypt this week to shore up beleaguered US 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," he said but without mentioning Christian or Jewish officials who are accused of holding similar hate views.

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 US ally to be placed on the US list of terror-sponsoring states.

But he did not mention Israel, seen by many as a "terrorist sate".

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."

Observers say the letter did not mention anything negative regarding Israel's "rabbis of hate".

Citing teachings found in a handful of textbooks, the lawmakers said high school students were taught that "the hour (of judgment) will not come until the Muslims fight Jews and kill them," - but such less references are much less extreme than their Christian and Jewish counterparts, which are openly accepted by many US and Israeli figures.

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."

But some Christian and Jewish stances towards women are seen as even less favourable, and both faiths have been accused of worse intolerance towards women.

Students were also warned in a separate schoolbook that "the punishment for homosexuality is death," according to Weiner's office. But such punishment was recently called by an Israeli MP, citing the Old Testament, but Weiner's office is not known to have protested.

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."

But Weiner did not address Christian and Jewish deviations from their original faith teachings, even though they have resulted in worse results worldwide.

Congress has examined alleged radical teachings in schools for 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 US capital Washington, contained language that could incite violence and showed intolerance toward other religions.

No such examination is known to have been conducted on Christian or Jewish hate incitement and intolerance of others.

 

Horse-trading begins as Tunisia awaits formation of new government

Jihadists flock to fight on ‘unprecedented scale’

UK court says Libyan Abdul-Hakim Belhaj can sue over rendition

Syria accuses Turkey of ‘flagrant violation of sovereignty’

Global campaign to end female genital mutilation kicks off

US to examine troops exposed to chemicals in Iraq

African Union hits back at Somalia rape claims

New scare in Turkey as ‘suspect packages’ found

‘Insults against Netanyahu’ cause embarrassment to US

Kuwait online activist gets four years in jail for insulting judges

Heavy fighting in South Sudan sparks fears of humanitarian catastrophe

Sweden officially recognises State of Palestine

Egypt jails retired general for damaging national security

Israel closes al-Aqsa mosque to worshipers in rare move

Gaza civil servants receive delayed salaries

After US criticism, Israel vows no concessions to Palestinians

Libya internationally recognised PM opens doors of dialogue with rivals

Huthi rebels seize stronghold of Muslim Brotherhood in central Yemen

Will Nidaa Tounes shun Islamists in Tunisia government formation?

Egypt starts work on buffer zone along border with Gaza

Turkey Sultan unveils new palace: Another break with symbols of secular state

Heavy toll as ‘Islamic State’ fights for control of Syria oil field

Iran President suffers fresh setback with rejection of Science Minister

Nuclear deal or no deal: ‘Red lines’ lay bare internal divisions in Iran

Heavy security in Mogadishu as UN chief meets Somalia president

Fighters from Free Syrian Army leave Turkey to join Kobane battle

Israel denies banning Palestinians sharing buses

Kurd fighters leave northern Iraq base for Syria deployment

Jordan requests UN emergency meeting over Israel settler expansion

Jerusalem Mayor visits Al-Aqsa mosque prompting anger

Tunisia reinforces commitment to democracy with ‘transparent’ elections

Turkey ‘decides’ for Kobane future: No Kurds, no Assad... Only Free Syrian Army!

Bahrain suspends Al-Wefaq weeks before parliamentary elections

Huge game changer in Tunisia: ‘In-credible’ failure of Islamist Ennahda Party

Libya PM in Khartoum for talks with Bashir

PKK hijack truck seizing explosive substance

Saudi lawyers get jail time for offensive tweets

Ennahda concedes defeat in Tunisia parliamentary elections

Syria rebels launch assault on regime-held city of Idlib

Iraq peshmerga wait for Turkey stance to depart for Syria

Sisi enacts military trials decree to cover ‘existential threat’

US calls for online war against ‘Islamic State’

Donors pledge $8 billion for Horn of Africa

Acid attacks in Iran: Deputy of Judiciary Chief to lead investigation

Lebanon army enters Islamist stronghold in Tripoli