THE BLOG
02/02/2017 05:04 pm ET

Why Isn't Saudi Arabia On Trump's List Of Banned Muslim Countries?

The Kingdom and its school books remain the source of hatred.

Why doesn't President Trump's executive order include Saudi Arabia, the country of origin of 15 of the 19 hijackers on 9/11? And why does the US State Department refrain from pushing The Kingdom to drop the incitement to commit violence from the text books it exports around the world?

Some years after 9/11, Saudi Arabia eventually promised to revise its hate-filled school books by 2008. Since then, the State Department has exaggerated the extent to which anti-Semitic and anti-Christian bigotry have been purged from the Saudi curriculum. In fact, analysts believe, US officials have covered-up for the Saudis, failing to ask for copies of recent books (as recently as 2016, it was regurgitating Saudi excuses that seven books requested were "still being revised").

In its 2005 annual report, the State Department parroted Saudi's claims to have revised its textbooks, a claim contradicted by the US Government Accountability Office, which conceded American officials "did not know" if the Saudis had actually taken steps to ensure that Saudi-funded curricula and religious activities in other countries "do not propagate extremism."

According to terrorism authority David Weinberg, the State Department tried to bury a US-tax-payer-funded study of the Saudi books commissioned in 2011. When the report, completed by the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy, was finally published, after significant pressure, it concluded that Saudi school texts "continue to teach hatred toward other religions and in some cases, promote violence."

Yet, in its 2015 annual report the State Department maintained, "The Saudi government continued its ongoing program to modernize the educational curriculum, including textbooks." However, the same report admitted, "this has not been completely implemented and some textbooks containing derogatory and intolerant references to Shia and non-Muslims remained in circulation."

This is an understatement. According to Dr Ali al-Ahmed of the Institute for Gulf Affairs, who has examined the books, as of 2017, "the textbooks remain largely unchanged. The State Department is part of the problem," he adds (email from Ali al-Ahmed to the author on January 23 2017).

What remains in the books, given to five million Saudi students, and distributed free in thousands of mosques and madrassas around the globe?

• Muslims are ordered to "hate" Christians, Jews, "polytheists" and other "unbelievers," which
includes Muslims who don't follow the Saudi's Wahhabi interpretation of Islam;
• Children are taught the West is plotting to undermine Muslims; and the Rotary and Lions Clubs are part of a Zionist conspiracy;
• "Jews and the Christians are enemies of the [Muslim] believers" and that "the clash" between the two realms is perpetual;
• Students must not to "greet," "befriend," "imitate," "show loyalty to," "be courteous to," or "respect" non-believers;
• The spread of Islam through jihad is a "religious duty;"

In a 12th grade textbook, Christians and Jews are described as "the worst of creatures" who "dwell in hellfire." A 10th grade book claims God made Jews "swine and apes." These publications are among those supplied to the 1,359 mosques (of which 16 are in the USA), 210 Islamic centers, 202 colleges and 2000 schools built by Saudi Arabia around the globe .

Middle East authority James Dorsey has studied the extent of Saudi's reach: "Estimates of Saudi spending on the funding of Muslim cultural, religious and educational institutions across the globe range from $75 billion to $100 billion," he reports. Thanks to the spread of Saudi propaganda, Dorsey believes that it will take a generation to turn around the ultra-conservative ideology funded and supported by Saudi in Pakistan and beyond.

The result of Saudi's disruptive global propaganda campaign was apparent in a 2007 opinion survey of British Muslims. One quarter of those questioned believed the UK government had staged the 2005 terrorist attack on the London transportation system in which 52 died. In addition, a Pew Research study found that 75% of Egyptians refused to believe Arabs were responsible for 9/11. According to Scott Shane, in countries with diverse but fragile faith traditions such as Pakistan and Nigeria, "the flood of Saudi money and the ideology it promotes have exacerbated divisions over religion that regularly prove lethal."

In his paper "Textbook Diplomacy," David Weinberg reports that current and former State Department officials admit they withheld an official report on the toxic nature of Saudi school books because it made the Saudis look bad. "American officials can sometimes be so focused on Saudi Arabia's massive oil production and pivotal role in regional security that long-term concerns such as indoctrination get swept under the rug." That, and the estimated $100 billion in arms sales to Saudi since 2010.
The State Department claims the Kingdom cooperates in shutting down the financing of terrorism and in sharing intelligence. Yet, at the same time, millions of young people around the globe are receiving a different message from Saudi-donated school books.

So, while Sudanese democracy campaigners, tortured by their Islamist (and Saudi-funded) regime, are subject to Trump's new rules, the Saudis are welcome. Dissident Iranian film directors will be excluded, but not the 125,000 Saudi students, raised on blood-curdling propaganda at home, who currently study on scholarships in the USA . A CATO Institute survey found that Saudi Arabians formed the vast majority (78%) of foreign-born terrorists, responsible for 2,369 deaths in the US, whereas the countries covered by Trump's executive orders provided none at all . It is, as someone once said, no way to run a railroad.

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