For years, critics have been on the Northern Virginia-based Islamic Saudi Academy (ISA) to purge its textbooks of extremist and intolerant messages toward non Muslims and even Shiite Muslims.
Now the Hudson Institute's Nina Shea and the Institute for Gulf Affairs' Ali al-Ahmed report that they've privately secured copies of the school's Islamic studies textbooks used last fall and found they have been cleansed of instruction on jihad and sections justifying the killing of non-Muslims.
Shea and al-Ahmed had to hunt down their own copies of the textbooks because the State Department refused to release copies it has for inspection.
But too many unanswered questions remain before the authors can give the ISA a clean bill of health. In an article Monday at the National Review's website, Shea and al-Ahmed say that, after justifying their murder in years past, current textbooks say nothing about the treatment of people of other faiths, gays "polytheists" and "adulterers:"
"[I]gnoring the issue almost completely will not suffice to orient students toward the peaceful interpretation. One must wonder whether the books were even intended to do such a thing."
A book for seniors invokes Ibn Taymiyyah as an authority on moral issues. Ibn Taymiyyah, Shea and al-Ahmed write, was a 14th-century author who "extolled the militant jihad we call 'terror.' His fatwas were found in a recent study by West Point's Combating Terrorism Center to be 'by far the most popular texts for modern Jihadis.' Renowned religion scholar Philip Jenkins wrote that Osama bin Laden cites Ibn Taymiyyah as a 'special hero.'"
The authors note that the ISA is seeking local government consent to expand. That request, absent more changes and more openness, should be rejected, they say.
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