Don't Be Friends With Christians or Jews, Saudi Texts Say
Despite years of work aimed at changing Saudi Arabia's public school curriculum, the country's latest textbooks continue to promote intolerance of other religions, a new study said Tuesday.
A first-grade student is taught that "Every religion other than Islam is false"; the teacher instructed to "Give examples of false religions, like Judaism, Christianity, paganism, etc." Fifth graders learn "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."
Those lessons are among numerous examples cited in a controversial new study of Saudi Arabia's religious curriculum released Tuesday by the Center for Religious Freedom, part of Freedom House, a nonprofit group in Washington that seeks to encourage democracy. Despite official pronouncements that curriculum change is marching ahead, intolerance continues to pervade religious education in Saudi public schools, the report says.
"It is not hate speech here and there, it is an ideology that runs throughout," Nina Shea, the center's director and principal author of the report, said in a telephone interview from Washington. "It adds up to an argument, an ideology of us versus them."
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