Major American publishers on Wednesday denounced Saudi textbooks for inciting hatred and promoting bigotry in a scathing editorial written for The Daily Beast.
“As current and former heads of major American publishing houses, we know the value of words. They inform actions and shape the world views of all, especially children. We are writing to express our profound disappointment that the Saudi government continues to print textbooks inciting hatred and violence against religious minorities,” the editorial stated.
The seven authors of the article — who include a former Random House chairman, a CEO of Time Warner Book Group and publisher at Amazon, a director at Pantheon Books, and the publisher of Simon and Schuster, among others — contended that the Saudi leadership had promised to “clean up” such textbooks.
The books include anti-Semitic references and verses that advocate aggression against Jews and Christians, and gays.
The publishers cited a ninth-grade Saudi Ministry of Education textbook, for example, that espoused intolerance: “The Jews and the Christians are enemies of the believers, and they cannot approve of Muslims.”
“The Apes are the people of the Sabbath, the Jews; and the Swine are the infidels of the communion of Jesus, the Christians,” read another eighth-grade school book, according to the article.
“Children who are indoctrinated with such hatred are susceptible to engage in bigotry and even violence. Hate speech is the precursor to genocide. First you get to hate and then you kill. This makes peaceful coexistence difficult, if not impossible,” the publishers explained.
A previous Daily Mail report from December 2011 cited “barbaric textbooks,” also paid for and printed by the Saudi kingdom, which taught children “how to cut off a thief’s hands and feet under Sharia [Islamic] law,” and told pupils that gays and Jews should be killed because they pose dangers to society. Other texts described women as weak and irresponsible.
“This is where terrorism starts, in the education system,” the Daily Mail quoted Ali Al-Ahmed, director of the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Gulf Affairs, as telling Fox News. He called the use of “jihadi language” in Saudi texts particularly worrisome.
Saudi Arabia came under intense scrutiny for its educational teachings in the wake of the September 11 attacks; most of the terrorists were from the kingdom. The government pledged a reform plan to get rid of the ideology of hate from textbooks.