This one really worries me that when the simple Arabic word for school, “madrasa,” has been so demonized.
Federal Agency Recommends Closing Saudi Supported School
Members of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom today urged the U.S. State Department to shut down a Saudi-supported Islamic school in Northern Virginia, until the school can ensure the U.S. government that it is not teaching an extremist ideology.
Panel members recently visited Saudi Arabia in an effort to determine the status of religious freedom in that country and the promotion of religious extremism in Saudi schools but did not visit the Islamic Saudi Academy.
The commission charges that the academy purports to be a private school but that its properties are owned or leased by the Embassy of Saudi Arabia.On numerous occasions, the commission charges, Saudi Embassy officials have spoken to the press on the school’s behalf, a violation of the law governing diplomatic activity.
Associated Press has a more balanced and detailed report:
The commission, a creation of Congress, has no power to implement policy on its own. Instead, it makes recommendations to other agencies.
The commission does not offer specific criticism of the academy’s teachings beyond its concerns that it too closely mimics a typical Saudi education.
The report recommends that the State Department prevail on the Saudi government to shut the school down until the school’s textbooks can be reviewed and procedures are put in place to ensure the school’s independence form the Saudi Embassy.
“There is nothing in our curriculum against any religion,” Al-Shabnan said.
He also said he is willing to show the school’s curriculum and textbooks to anybody who wants to see them, and he expressed disappointment that the commission did not request materials directly from the school.
“We have an open policy,” he said.
He also pointed out that many of the school’s teachers are Christian and Jewish.
The commission based its findings in part on a the work of a delegation that traveled to Saudi Arabia this year. The commission asked embassy officials to review the textbooks used in Saudi schools generally and at the Islamic Saudi Academy specifically but did not receive a response.
Commission spokeswoman Judith Ingram said the commission did not request to speak to academy officials because that went beyond the commission’s mandate.
So, I guess my questions for the commission are:
1. If your major contentions is that the privately owned school has links with the Saudi Embassy, why go to the Saudi Embassy to ask for the text books?
2. If speaking to school officials is beyond the commission’s mandate, why is it in your mandate to make such far reaching recommendations about the school?
One way to further alienate young Muslims and promote the notion that there is a clash of civilizaitons is to shut down an Islamic school. Why don’t these people set up a meeting with school officials and interview parents and students? I’m not all that familiar with the curriculum, but I seriously doubt that Saudi Arabia has a hate filled curriculum enciting young Muslims to jihad against all infidels–especially their allies. So, I’m going to watch this one.
Here’s a few blog entries that I found interesting:
Below the Beltway
Okay, I’m waiting for more reputable sources to report on this….