Anne Applebaum writes in Slate about a report (PDF) put out by the Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom last week. The report covers a new revised version of school textbooks in Saudi Arabia--
Following a similar analysis of earlier versions of these same textbooks in 2006, American diplomats immediately approached their Saudi counterparts about the more disturbing passages, and the Saudis agreed to conduct a "comprehensive revision … to weed out disparaging remarks towards religious groups." The promised revision—hailed, at the time, as a great diplomatic success—was supposed to be finished by the beginning of the 2008-09 school year and was accompanied by a Saudi PR campaign.So what does the new, improved textbook look like? See if you can answer this question from a recent edition of a Saudi fourth-grade textbook, Monotheism and Jurisprudence:
The answer is c), as the first 2 answers make sure to push the 4th grader to realize. Just keep in mind that unbelievers in this case refers to Jews and Christians.
Q. Is belief true in the following instances:
a) A man prays but hates those who are virtuous.
b) A man professes that there is no deity other than God but loves the unbelievers.
c) A man worships God alone, loves the believers, and hates the unbelievers.
Applebaum goes on defend why it matters what the Saudi government puts into its textbooks:
Normally, the contents of another country's textbooks would be of no interest to us. Indeed, I've no doubt that there are plenty of U.S. textbooks that contain insane, incorrect, or otherwise unacceptable information. Saudi school textbooks are a special case, however. They are written and produced by the Saudi government and subsequently distributed, free of cost, to Saudi-sponsored schools as far afield as Lagos, Nigeria, and Buenos Aires, Argentina. Americans are not the only ones who worry about their influence. In Britain, a small political storm began last year when British mosques were found to be distributing Saudi books that called on Muslims to kill all apostates. [emphasis added]It is all very nice to laud the Saudi initiative in the Madrid Conference, despite the fact that Zionism was still attacked and other things occurred that indicated that the conference was not ready for prime time. The point is that it is clear that the Saudis do not practice what they claim they want to preach, raising the question of what they actually wanted out of the conference.