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Concerns about ‘Anti-Semitic’ themes remain in Saudi Arabia’s books

Saudi Arabia has been distinctly censured over the decades for school textbooks that address women’s to men, anti-Semitism, and a comprehensive hatred toward religions other than Islam. But those textbooks have been gradually cleansed of much of this offensive content, with individually important revisions made in the recession.

Gone is a segment on sodomy that was supportive of capital sentence for homosexual relationships. Gone are most applause of radical martyrdom and its characterization as the most important aspiration of Islam. Anti-Semitic references and calls to “fight Jews” are now far fewer, with the latest edition of a 10th-grade textbook having eliminated a passage citing the prophet Muhammad as saying, “The [Day of Judgement] will not come until Muslims fight the Jews, and the Muslims will kill them [all].”But some concerns about anti-Semitic themes persist. One textbook still involves a story about a Jewish boy who is saved from hell by being converted to Islam. Another passage relates to a Quranic text that represents God transforming a group of Jews into “real monkeys.” A review by IMPACT-se in December said the Saudi textbook ruled out “other, gentler interpretations” of the episode that administer the passage metaphorically.

The Saudi government did not reply to a demand for remark. Saudi textbooks have long railed against anything that distracts from the hard-line Sunni Muslim ideas that rule the kingdom. Non-Muslims and in particular, Jews, who are singled out are recognized atheists and have been the most-aimed groups. The disciplines of Shiites, who serve another branch of Islam and are a minority in Saudi Arabia, have also been heavily scrutinized.

The Quran, Islam’s holy book, is inscribed in complex, archaic Arabic, giving followers to depend on reviews and rulings by religious specialists. Conservative sheiks lead to proceed harsher orders, while liberal sheiks issue more tolerant or soft ones. The textbook editions launched in 2019 had already made paces, excluding lessons that claimed Jewish ideas for world domination and removing a Quranic passage that says men are in the power of women and that women who continue to walk from the spiritual path must eventually be beaten by their husbands.

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Saudi Arabia has been passing through a phase of dramatic change, led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. While his rise to power has caused worsening human rights violations, he has also attempted to improve the kingdom with a certain amount of cultural liberalization and grand economic initiatives. Educational improvement has been part of that.

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