May 26, 2017
During his visit to Saudi Arabia, President Trump stressed that Washington and Riyadh can join together in fighting Islamic State, Iran, and other violent Islamist entities. David Andrew Weinbergurges the U.S. to pressure the Saudi government to do its part by changing the tenor of its textbooks, which are used in the kingdom and exported to over a dozen other Muslim countries:
Until 2015, the Saudi curriculum was so austere that Islamic State was reportedly using the kingdom’s textbooks at schools in territory it had conquered. . . . Saudi textbooks for the current academic year call for the slaughter of people who engage in a range of non-violent acts considered immoral by Saudi religious authorities. This includes adultery, gay sex, disavowing or mocking Islam, and even “sorcery.” . . .
A current high-school textbook . . . claims that the goal of Zionism is world domination, namely a “global Jewish government to control the entire world.” It singles out Zionism among all other self-determination movements as inherently racist and expansionist, somehow even blaming it for spreading drugs and sexually-transmitted diseases in the Islamic world. . . . [Another] declares that “Christianity in its current state is an invalid, perverted religion” whose promoters seek to impose its dominion over Muslim nations through “intellectual invasion.” . . .
Washington has leverage [regarding these textbooks]. Saudi Arabia is so eager to patch up its frayed alliance with the U.S. that the king’s son recently went so far as to vouch for the president’s “deep respect” for Islam and endorse his immigration policies. . . . Trump should point out that in 2006 the kingdom assured the U.S. that it would remove all remaining passages from the books that promote hatred or disparage other religions by 2008. . . .
It would also be fair to ask Riyadh to take other crucial steps against extremist indoctrination, such as to stop granting broadcast licenses to Salafist television channels that air hateful messages abroad and to stop granting government privileges to preachers who propagate intolerance.