Here is CAIR’s Ibrahim Hooper, of all people, doing and saying what he ought to have been doing and saying all along. Or at least seeming to do so. Pardon me if I am suspicious, in light of the organization’s track record. From the Washington Times, and Nicolei:
Two Islamic groups say a private Saudi school in Alexandria is teaching first-graders an extreme version of Islam that fosters contempt for other religions, a charge denied by the Saudi government, which creates curriculum for such schools.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a District-based Islamic civil rights and advocacy group, has joined with the Free Muslim Coalition Against Terrorism in calling for an Arabic textbook to be removed from classes at the Islamic Saudi Academy.
One page in the manual for the first-grade textbook instructs teachers to tell students that any religion other than Islam is false.
“These first-grade students are very impressionable,” said Kamal Nawash, a Palestinian and practicing Muslim who runs the six-month-old Free Muslim Coalition Against Terrorism.
“The extremist version of Islam encourages violence. We don’t need to be teaching that anymore in this diverse world. We need to teach people to get along.”
The Islamic Saudi Academy referred inquiries to the Saudi Embassy, which dismissed Mr. Nawash’s assertion as an attempt to restart a failed political career.
Embassy spokesman Nail Al-Jubeir compared the textbook to any other religious teaching and said it was “shameful” of Mr. Nawash “to be using this as a source of bigotry.”
“They are making a big thing out of nothing,” Mr. Al-Jubeir said. “If that’s the only thing they have to bring up, how pathetic the argument is. Judaism does not recognize Christ as the Messiah. Christians say the only way to salvation is accepting Christ in your heart.”
CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said the textbook page conflicts with the teachings in the Koran, which says Jews, Christians and all “who believe in God” will “have their reward with their Lord.”
“The [page of the] textbook is inaccurate in terms of portraying Islam’s relationship with other faiths,” Mr. Hooper said. “I would suggest either removing the textbook or inserting a notation that something is being changed in the textbook.”…
But Mr. Nawash said he has no intention of running for office again and that his only motive is to stop extremist teaching that he fears will lead to terrorism.
“This is much more important, and it should have been done a long time ago. There is a strong movement of people pushing extremist Islam that tolerates any means, including terrorism, to meet their goals,” he said. “It’s not a handful, it’s a worldwide uprising. … We’re not staying silent anymore.”
This is not the first time Mr. Nawash has been under scrutiny.
His law firm once represented Abdul Rahman al-Amoudi, a prominent U.S. Muslim leader who had a role in a Libyan conspiracy to assassinate Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah. Al-Amoudi on Friday pleaded guilty to illegal financial transactions with Libya and admitted his role in the plot.
Al-Amoudi had donated $10,000 to Mr. Nawash’s campaign for the state Senate. Mr. Nawash returned the donation.
When asked whether he was friends with al-Amoudi, Mr. Nawash refused to comment.
“I was part of a law firm that represented him,” he said. “I can’t really comment on that. One of the attorneys in the firm represented him for a short time.”
Al-Amoudi’s current attorney, Stanley Cohen, said Mr. Nawash’s firm has had “nothing to do” with the case for 10 months.
In defending his position, Mr. Hooper cited the teachings of the prophet Muhammad in the Hadiths: “Both in this world and in the Hereafter, I am the nearest of all people to Jesus, the son of Mary. The prophets are paternal brothers; their mothers are different, but their religion is one.”
I didn’t know Nawash had any connection with Alamoudi. The material on the Free Muslim website is very fine. The group bears watching.
As for CAIR, Hooper’s statement is outstandingly disingenuous. Hooper is giving the impression, at least in this article, that Islam teaches that it is one with Christianity as it exists in the world today. But in fact the Jesus to whom he refers as Muhammad’s brother is a Muslim construction who is significantly different from the Jesus of Christianity. The one religion they share in the Hadith is Islam, of which, in this view, Christianity is a corruption and heresy. There is nothing in this Hadith, or in the Qur’anic verse Hooper cites above, that is inconsistent with the idea that Christianity is false, as the Saudi textbook teaches. The fact that Hooper doesn’t address these issues, but evidently just assumes an audience ignorant of Islam, is questionable at very least.
It is this tendency to go five steps when six are needed, and to persist in leaving important questions unanswered, that makes reasonable people suspicious of CAIR.
UPDATE: Two years ago the Washington Post carried a story about the same school, containing a good deal of illuminating information and raising the question: Why does CAIR only care now? (Thanks to Jo and Al for sending this):
The Saudi Islamic Academy has withdrawn its membership from a respected association of private schools in Virginia and has lost its accreditation with the group after the organization asked questions about how the academy is funded and governed, sources close to the decision said….
Since 1990, the school has touted its accreditation by the Virginia
Association of Independent Schools and the Southern Association of
Colleges and Schools, which accredits more than 12,000 public and
private schools in 11 states and Latin America. The school’s Web site
still says it is accredited by both.
But Sally Boese, executive director of the Virginia association, said,
“The Islamic Saudi Academy is no longer a member of VAIS, as they
withdrew their membership from our association effective June 30, 2002.”…
The sources also said that some board members were concerned about
aspects of the school’s curriculum. The Washington Post in January
reported that some Islamic studies classes at the school use Saudi
Arabian textbooks that promote hatred of other religions. However, the
curricular concerns were not part of the questioning that led to the
withdrawal, sources said.