Virginia Saudi-Funded School Faces New Accusations


A FOX news report has reported that the Islamic Saudi Academy, a controversial Saudi-funded school in Northern Virginia with possible ties to the global Muslim Brotherhood, has unsuccessfully revised its textbooks in an attempt at defusing accusations that its textbooks promote religious intolerance and hated. According to the report:

An Islamic school in Northern Virginia has revised its religious textbooks in an apparently unsuccessful move aimed at ending longtime accusations that the school promotes hatred and intolerance. The Islamic Saudi Academy, which teaches nearly 900 students in grades K-12 at its campus outside Washington, D.C., developed new Islamic studies textbooks for all grades after a 2008 congressional report called portions of the previous editions troubling. The school deleted from its texts some of the most contentious passages, including references to Jihad, killing infidels and hatred of Jews and Christians. But critics say the books are still “toxic” and contain more subtle references, such as criticism of secular forms of government. Ali Al-Ahmed, director of the Gulf Institute, which has been pressing the school to make revision since 2004, told FOX News that the textbooks characterize secular governments as “committing unbelief and allowing us to wage war against them.” “So you’re teaching American students — implanting the seeds of insurgency in these people — and this is very dangerous,” Al-Ahmed said. He added that the textbooks teach girls that they should not aspire to be judges or political leaders and when a girl gets married, she must ask her husband if she wants to leave the house. The school has stood by its latest revision. “We know our students’ needs,” school director Abdul Rahma said. “We believe these books match their needs.” The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom says it wants to look at the books but the Saudi government, which funds the academy, won’t give the panel a copy.

As the FOX report points out, the school has had a history of problems:

Founded in 1984, it drew national attention after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, which turned the focus onto the Saudi educational system after 15 of the 19 hijackers were of Saudi origin. In December 2001, former ISA students Mohammed El-Yacoubi and Mohammed Osman Idris were denied entry into Israel when authorities there found El-Yacoubi carrying what the FBI believed was a suicide note linked to a planned martyrdom operation in Israel. In 2005, a former ISA valedictorian, Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, was convicted in federal court of joining Al Qaeda while attending college in Saudi Arabia and plotting to assassinate President George W. Bush. Last year, the school’s then-director Abdalla al-Shabnan was convicted of failing to report a suspected case of child sex abuse.

A post from January discussed a review of the textbooks used by the Islamic Saudi Academy in 2007-2008 undertaken by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom which recommended that ” the State Department close the school until it proves that it is not teaching a type of religious intolerance potentially dangerous to the United States. These findings came a month after the Fairfax Virginia County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to extend the academy’s lease for its main campus, which lies on county property, after conducting its own study of the textbooks last year. The earlier post noted that the congressionally created commission’s actions caused “tensions” at the State Department who were said to be annoyed that the panel was pressing the issue during a “delicate moment of diplomacy over Saudi education.” State Department officials said at the time that Saudi education is undergoing reforms within the kingdom and at affiliated schools around the world.  Another post discussed  subsequent reports about textbook passages that were were anti-Semitic, intolerant of various Muslim groups, and which advocated violence against those who convert from Islam

There are possible connections from the Academy to the global Muslim Brotherhood. The 2004 annual report of the Islamic charity known as LIFE for Relief and Development, associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, lists Dr. Dawood Abdul Rahman as a director while the website of the Saudi Islamic Academy lists an individual with the same name as director of its Islamic Studies program. Also, according to German TV reports the King Fahd Academy in Germany, another Saudi financed academy, maintained contact with the local Muslim Brotherhood organization and its registration papers indicated that in the event of its closure, its assets would revert to them. The King Fahd Academy was also accused of various forms of extremism including teaching hatred of Jews and Christians.

Islam Online, an Islamic news portal associated with global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi, ran a story today defending the Islamic Saudi Academy titled “US Islamic School Braves Smear Campaign.”

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