UPDATED POST: I received an erroneous report from Brian C. Ledbetter of Snapped Shot to the effect that the Islamic Saudi Academy’s expansion plan had been rejected by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in Virginia. Then I had to go out, and the erroneous information was up here for 45 minutes. I apologize for the error. In reality, as expected, the Board brushed aside concerns about the school’s Islamic supremacist curriculum and approved the expansion.
Here is more on why it should have been rejected.
“Hide and Seek: A Virginia school scrubbed jihad from its textbooks, but may still preach violence,” by Nina Shea and Ali al-Ahmed in National Review, August 3:
[…] ISA”s website for 2008-09 stated that the school “follows the Islamic Studies curriculum which has been set forth by the Kingdom.” As the first resource on its “Useful Links” webpage, ISA linked to the Saudi Education Ministry site, where the noxious curriculum is posted in full. Those books, according to the Ministry, are electronically formatted to facilitate copying, cutting, and pasting. This underscores the problem of a piecemeal approach to Saudi educational reform.
Even the new texts themselves reference several extreme Islamic authorities. For example, the new twelfth-grade book directs students to Ibn Taymiyyah for resolving moral questions. A 14th-century author, Ibn Taymiyyah 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.”
In addition, it’s important to note that on matters besides jihad, the books still largely reflect Wahhabi orthodoxy. For example, ISA”s new texts endorse marriages between adults and pre-pubescent children, teach that women should not be judges or exercise “greater governorship,” and starkly divide the world into believers and unbelievers.
Since 9/11, ISA officials “” including the various Saudi ambassadors who have served as ISA chairmen “” have annually given assurances of curriculum reform and annually broken their promises. They”ve had help: The school’s accreditation by the Southern Association for Colleges and Schools was seriously flawed, since the association’s “volunteer” evaluators did not know Arabic and therefore never read the Islamic-studies curriculum. ISA”s brandishing of a recent letter by two American academic consultants to the school, giving their approval for the sanitized Wahhabi textbooks, only deepens the school’s reputation for deception.
The State Department reached an understanding with Riyadh in 2006 that, within two years, Saudi Arabia would remove intolerant passages from all its educational materials both within the Kingdom and abroad, including in its network of 20 international schools of which ISA is a part. Under new legislation initiated by Virginia congressman Frank Wolf, State must now follow up. It should do so with an informed assessment of what ISA teaches, especially about jihad and the religious other “” in both semesters, in Arabic as well as English, and in all educational and resource material. And until an independent, professional, and thorough process verifies reform, Fairfax County should reject the Academy”s request to expand.