Report: Troubling Texts at Va. Islamic School

AP, June 11, 2008

Textbooks at a private Islamic school in northern Virginia teach students that it is permissible for Muslims to kill adulterers and converts from Islam, according to a federal investigation released Wednesday.

Other passages in the school’s textbooks state that “the Jews conspired against Islam and its people” and that Muslims are permitted to take the lives and property of those deemed “polytheists.”

The passages were found in selected textbooks used during the 2007-08 school year by the Islamic Saudi Academy, which teaches 900 students in grades K-12 at two campuses in Alexandria and Fairfax and receives much of its funding from the Saudi government.

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School was recommended for closure

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, a panel formed by Congress, last year recommended that the school be closed amid concerns that it promotes violence and too closely mimics the conservative Saudi educational system.

The commission made its recommendation last year to close the school even though it had not reviewed the textbooks. Now that some have been reviewed, “we feel more confident that the potential problems we flagged before really are there,” said the commission’s spokeswoman, Judith Ingram.

School officials have long denied that the academy fosters intolerance. It has acknowledged that some of the Saudi textbooks contain harsh language, but says that the texts have improved in recent years and are revised as needed by the academy before being distributed to students.

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* The authors of a 12th-grade text on Quranic interpretation state that apostates (those who convert from Islam), adulterers and people who murder Muslims can be permissibly killed.

* The authors of a 12th-grade text on monotheism write that “(m)ajor polytheism makes blood and wealth permissible,” meaning that a Muslim can take with impunity the life and property of someone believed guilty of polytheism. According to the panel, the strict Saudi interpretation of polytheism includes Shiite and Sufi Muslims as well as Christians, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists.

* A social studies text offers the view that Jews were responsible for the split between Sunni and Shiite Muslims: “The cause of the discord: The Jews conspired against Islam and its people. A sly, wicked person who sinfully and deceitfully professed Islam infiltrated (the Muslims).”

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Hyland [Supervisor Gerald Hyland] and the county never released results of what they had found, but Hyland said in approving the lease that he is comfortable with the school’s teachings, though he did so with a qualification.

“I would be less than frank if I didn’t tell you that the curriculum does contain references to the Quran, which, if taken out of context and read literally, would cause come concern,” Hyland said at the meeting at which the lease was extended.

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