Monday, June 16, 2008

Bigoted Muslim textbooks being used in America

Last fall, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom asked the U.S. Department of State to secure the release of all Arabic-language textbooks used at a Saudi government school in Northern Virginia, the Islamic Saudi Academy (ISA). The Commission took this action in order to ensure that the books be publicly examined to determine whether the texts used at the ISA promote violence, discrimination, or intolerance based on religion or belief. The ISA is unlike any conventional private or parochial school in the United States in that it is operated by a foreign government and uses that government's official texts. It falls under the Commission's mandate to monitor the actions of foreign governments in relation to religious freedom. The government of Saudi Arabia, as a member of the international community, is committed to upholding international standards, including the obligation not to promote violence, intolerance, or hate.

The Commission requested Saudi government textbooks repeatedly during and following its trip to Saudi Arabia in May-June 2007. Shortly after the Commission raised the issue publicly, the Saudi government turned over textbooks used at the ISA to the State Department, but as of this writing, the Department has not made them available either to the public or to the Commission, nor has it released any statement about the content of the books that it received. Nevertheless, although it was unable to obtain the entire collection, the Commission managed to acquire and review 17 ISA textbooks in use during this school year from other, independent sources, including a congressional office. While the texts represent just a small fraction of the books used in this Saudi government school, the Commission's review confirmed that these texts do, in fact, include some extremely troubling passages that do not conform to international human rights norms. The Commission calls once again for the full public release of all the Arabic-language textbooks used at the ISA.

In July 2006, the Saudi government confirmed to the U.S. government that, among other policies to improve religious freedom and tolerance, it would, within one to two years, "revise and update textbooks to remove remaining references that disparage Muslims or non-Muslims or that promote hatred toward other religions or religious groups." The Commission is releasing this statement as the two-year timeframe is coming to an end, and with particular concern over the content of textbooks used at the ISA, in order to highlight reforms that should be made before the 2008-09 school year begins at the ISA.

Examples of Problematic Passages in Current ISA Textbooks

The most problematic texts involve passages that are not directly from the Koran but rather contain the Saudi government's particular interpretation of Koranic and other Islamic texts. Some passages clearly exhort the readers to commit acts of violence, as can be seen in the following two examples:

* In a twelfth-grade Tafsir (Koranic interpretation) textbook, the authors state that it is permissible for a Muslim to kill an apostate (a convert from Islam), an adulterer, or someone who has murdered a believer intentionally: "He (praised is He) prohibits killing the soul that God has forbidden (to kill) unless for just cause." Just cause is then defined in the text as "unbelief after belief, adultery, and killing an inviolable believer intentionally." (Tafsir, Arabic/Sharia, 123)

* A twelfth-grade Tawhid (monotheism) textbook states that "[m]ajor polytheism makes blood and wealth permissible," which in Islamic legal terms means that a Muslim can take the life and property of someone believed to be guilty of this alleged transgression with impunity. (Tawhid, Arabic/Sharia, 15) Under the Saudi interpretation of Islam, "major polytheists" include Shi'a and Sufi Muslims, who visit the shrines of their saints to ask for intercession with God on their behalf, as well as Christians, Jews, Hindus, and Buddhists.

The overt exhortations to violence found in these passages make other statements that promote intolerance troubling even though they do not explicitly call for violent action. These other statements vilify adherents of the Ahmadi, Baha'i, and Jewish religions, as well as of Shi'a Islam. This is despite the fact that the Saudi government is obligated as a member of the United Nations and a state party to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and other relevant treaties to guarantee the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion. The statements include the following:

* "Today, Qadyanis [Ahmadis] are one of the greatest strongholds for spreading aberration, deviation, and heresy in the name of religion, even from within Islamic countries. Thus, the Qadyani [Ahmadi] movement has become a force of destruction and internal corruption today in the Islamic world." ("Aspects of Muslim Political and Cultural History," Eleventh Grade, Administrative/Social Track, Sharia/Arabic Track, 99)

* "It [Baha'ism] is one of the destructive esoteric sects in the modern age... It has become clear that Babism [the precursor to Baha'ism], Baha'ism, and Qadyanism [Ahmadism] represent wayward forces inside the Islamic world that seek to strike it from within and weaken it. They are colonial pillars in our Islamic countries and among the true obstacles to a renaissance." ("Aspects of Muslim Political and Cultural History," Eleventh Grade, 99-100)

* "The cause of the discord: The Jews conspired against Islam and its people. A sly, wicked person who sinfully and deceitfully professed Islam infiltrated (the Muslims). He was `Abd Allah b. Saba' (from the Jews of Yemen). [___]* began spewing his malice and venom against the third of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs, `Uthman (may God be pleased with him), and falsely accused him." (Tawhid, Administrative/Social Sciences Track, 67)

(*The word or words here were obscured by correction fluid.)

* Sunni Muslims are told to "shun those who are extreme regarding the People of the House (Muhammad's family) and who claim infallibility for them." (Tawhid, Arabic/Sharia 82; Tawhid, Administrative/Social Sciences Track, 65) This would include all Shi'a Muslims, for whom the doctrine of infallibility is a cardinal principle.

Other problematic passages employ ambiguous language, and the textbook authors do nothing to clarify the meaning.

* A ninth-grade Hadith textbook states: "It is not permissible to violate the blood, property, or honor of the unbeliever who makes a compact with the Muslims. The blood of the mu'ahid is not permissible unless for a legitimate reason.the mu'ahid is an unbeliever who contracts a treaty with a Muslim providing for the safety of his life, property, and family." (Hadith, Ninth Grade, 142-3)

The passages about the mu'ahid are most troubling for what they leave out. They address the protected status of an unbeliever in a Muslim country, but are silent on whether unbelievers living in non-Muslim countries are afforded the same protections of "blood, property, or honor." Such an omission, taken together with the outright incitement to violence and vilifying language noted above, could be interpreted as tacitly condoning violence against non-Muslims living in non-Muslim countries.

The Commission would urge the textbook authors to put more context into some sections of the textbooks to avoid any perception that they could be encouraging violence.

More here

Britain: Classroom focus on expressing emotion 'leaves pupils unable to cope'

Schools and universities are producing a generation of "can't do" students, who are encouraged to talk about their emotions at the expense of exploring ideas or acquiring knowledge, academics claimed yesterday. The strong focus on emotional expression and building up self-esteem in schools and colleges was "infantilising" students, leaving them unable to cope with life on their own, according to the authors of a new book, The Dangerous Rise of Therapeutic Education.

Dennis Hayes and Kathryn Ecclestone, of Oxford Brookes University, argue that this "therapeutic" approach to education is at odds with the acquisition of knowledge because it views the emotional skills associated with learning as more important than subject content or criticism. "Turning teaching into therapy is destroying the minds of children, young people and adults," Dr Hayes told Times Higher Education. "Therapeutic education promotes the idea that we are emotional, vulnerable and hapless individuals. It is an attack on human potential."

They pointed to the increased presence of parents on campus, and substitute parents, such as counsellors and support officers. "Everyone looks for a difficulty to declare, like the hundreds of students who register themselves as dyslexic. Being dyslexic used to be something that people hid. Now students wear their difficulties as a badge of honour," Dr Hayes said.

Therapeutic education pervaded all levels of education. Dr Hayes cited the case of a primary school boy who was asked by an emotional learning assistant why he was so happy. When he said he was looking forward to a treat at McDonald's, she asked: "Are you sure there is nothing worrying you?"

The book follows the recent introduction into state schools of lessons in happiness and wellbeing under a programme known as Seal (Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning). Ministers are convinced that teaching children to express their emotions boosts concentration and motivation. But there is growing disquiet that this attitude could undermine teaching and learning.

Frank Furedi, Professor of Sociology at the University of Kent, said: "It inflates the importance of feelings to the point where they eclipse what is supposed to be going on in the classroom." It also made teachers and lecturers overcautious. "They will give a piece of work 55 per cent and then write on it 'this essay is superb' because they daren't say it's crap."

John Foreman, dean of students at University College London, agreed that students were not as "self-sustaining and robust" as they once were. He partly blamed overprotective parents. "If young people don't start learning to solve their own problems, when will they ever?" he said.

Anthony Seldon, Master of Wellington College in Berkshire, a pioneer of wellbeing classes, defended the approach. "Since we started wellbeing lessons [in 2005] our A-level results have gone up from 64 to 86 per cent of students getting As and Bs."


Australia: Results falling at primary schools

The Leftist domination of education brings the expected results. Destruction is what the Left is good at. Why so? Because destruction of the society they live in is their real aim. All the rest is camouflage

LITERACY and numeracy levels have dropped alarmingly in Queensland primary schools, new figures reveal. State Budget figures show many Queensland students failed to meet national benchmarks for reading, writing and maths from Years 2 to 7. Of the 24 targets set by the State Government for 2007-08, only nine were met. Scores were down in 17 of 24 areas, compared with 2006-07. The worst results were for 11 and 12-year-olds in Year 7.

The Government set a target of 82 per cent of students achieving the national benchmark in numeracy but only 73 per cent passed. In reading, the target was 86 per cent but reached 81.7 per cent. It is the fourth year in a row they have under-performed. In 2004-05, 93.1 per cent of Year 7 students achieved the national benchmark in reading. That mark has dropped by 11.4 percentage points in three years.

For maths, it was 82.3 per cent in 2004-05. Now it is 9.2 percentage points lower. The Government hoped 54 per cent of indigenous Year 7 students would achieve the maths benchmark but only 45.9 per cent passed.

Opposition education spokesman Stuart Copeland expressed concern at the failure to meet the national benchmarks. "Every child should be taught the basics to function in today's society. They should be able to read, write and add up," he said. Former chairman of the Australian Council for Education Standards Colin Lamont said it reinforced his view that children were being "dumbed down". He said while teachers held some responsibility, he blamed bureaucrats who "experimented far too frequently" with the curriculum. "Everything has to be 'relevant' today . . . they have taken away what I call enrichment knowledge and that is a great shame."

Education Minister Rod Welford said he was not overly concerned by what were small fluctuations in the annual figures. "We are setting higher benchmarks these days than 20 years ago . . . I never panic about any one year's results through the primary years," he said. "If the changes have been more significant . . . then that is something we will need to monitor."

Queensland Teachers Union president Steve Ryan said there were "real question marks about the validity of national testing". "If the benchmarks are down, then that is something that needs to be addressed," he said.


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