The diary of a Saudi man, currently living in the United Kingdom, where the Religious Police no longer trouble him for the moment.

In Memory of the lives of 15 Makkah Schoolgirls, lost when their school burnt down on Monday, 11th March, 2002. The Religious Police would not allow them to leave the building, nor allow the Firemen to enter.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Back to school 

I am grateful to "Eva" for bringing this article, about the Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace, to my attention. It's about their work, looking at school textbooks in different parts of the Middle East. As it says

When governments take responsibility for publishing school textbooks, such books invariably reflect what the leaders of that society want children to believe......CMIP found that the Israeli textbooks actively promote education for reconciliation, tolerance, and peace. They present Islam in a "positive light," with factual explanations of its doctrines. They describe the Palestinian cause as a national movement. They do not promote hatred or violence toward Arabs.... The textbooks published by Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt, and the Palestinian Authority, however, use negative stereotypes to portray Jews. Their maps of the region do not include any mention of Israel; its territory is usually described as "Palestine." The Arab textbooks present Jews as treacherous usurpers throughout history, with no rightful claim to nationhood. They describe the infamous Protocols of the Elders of Zion as an authentic historical document.

The CMIP site has got a load of archival material of textbooks from many countries. I'll look at Saudi Arabia's in detail in a series of posts. Some people are having way too much fun in this blog, and now is the time for some serious education. So sit down, be quiet, stop wriggling and pay attention.

Today, we're going to talk about the West and its pernicious effect on our society. In particular we'll look at the way in which those outside, and even inside, would like to influence our country.

This is a set of examples of Western-inspired decadence, from a Grade 10 textbook on "Biography of the Prophet and History of the Muslim State" . And no, I did not make them up myself.

1. Calling for male and female mixing in the spheres of work, education and other fields of public life.

2. Opening dance halls, amusement centers and other types of cheap entertainment. *

3. Abolishing the veil and showing the unveiled face.

4. Establishing interest-based banks, encouraging people to conduct interest-based businesses and advocating that. **

5. Cramming the markets, radio and television with vulgar stories, literature and songs.

6. Emulating the Westerners in their holidays: birthdays, Mother’s Day, May Day, etc… not to mention the revival of Zoroastrian or ancient holidays such as the Nowruz [Persian New Year’s Day] and Shamm al-Nasim [Egyptian Spring Festival]. ***

7. The tendency among the educated sons of the Arabic language to speak among themselves in a modern European or American language, instead of their own national language, in order to show off the extent of their education.

8. The practice of many well-off Muslim families to send their sons to local missionary schools and colleges, instead of sending them to national educational institutions. ****

9. Introducing Western political institutions such as political parties and parliaments into the Muslim societies, which have resulted in tragedies and fragmentation among sons of the same society. *****

* This is encouraging, because it does raise the possibility in the future of opening places of entertainment, as long as they are not "cheap". For example, opera is not cheap. Neither is a Michael Jackson outdoor spectacular (or perhaps it is these days).

** Too late. The Wahabbis failed to influence the government here. All Saudi banks charge and receive interest. Even the so-called Islamic banks receive interest, only they call it "profit" or "charges" or some such euphemism.

*** These days are of course not the same as the recent Saudi National Day, which we recently celebrated. Our National Day is totally different, for obvious reasons which I won't patronize you by explaining.

**** "Local Missionary Schools" may conjure up a vision of rosy-cheeked nuns dispensing equal quantities of medicine, education and Christianity. Sadly, this is not so. I'm guessing (because I was fortunate enough to miss most of the Saudi education system) that it refers to the "National schools" e.g. the American School, British School etc. These are primarily for the expats of those countries, but other nationalities (including Saudi if they have loads of "wasta") like to send their children there if they get the chance. The Wahabbis would love to close them down. As the bomb-threatened Westerners leave, this may happen of its own accord.

***** The only country in the Middle East which has such a functioning democracy, whose name escapes me for the moment, is not Muslim, so I haven't a clue what country they are referring to.

I hope you are still paying attention. There's going to be a test at the end and you can't go home until you've completed it.

Let's talk more about Western society. From Biography of the Prophet and History of the Muslim State, Grade 10, (2001)

Here we are today witnessing another experience that leads to another deterioration: The Western civilization, which has lost the meaning of spirituality, finds itself in its turn on the verge of an abyss. It is a civilization on its way to dissolution and extinction.

Examples? Well, there's suicide. From Islamic Jurisprudence, Grade 10, (2001)

The abundance of suicide cases in Western societies is surely because of their great distance from the true divine source. In the light of the exaggeration on the part of some Muslims in praising those societies, while they pay no attention to their bad side, we thought it advisable to discuss the suicide issue, because of its danger, being part of the premeditated murder category.

We don't have a suicide problem in Saudi Arabia. Any potential suicides, we export them to Iraq. Or put them on a plane in the USA.

Some of the questions for discussion are quite difficult. From National Education, Grade 9, (2000)

Your friend wants to travel outside the kingdom as a tourist and you want to convince him to desist from doing so. What are the justifications that you would mention in order to convince him to abandon his travel idea?

Possibly the answer is to warn him of the risk of

....sodomy is a prominent reason for being afflicted by dangerous diseases which spread in society. Among these diseases – the infectious AIDS disease which has disturbed the West and robbed them of their sleep, to such a degree that they have demanded the isolation in designated places of those who are afflicted by sexual digression.

Better stay at home. We do have AIDS in Saudi Arabia but we don't talk about it, so you won't catch it.

But for those who accuse us of not being modern and technological, we do have a Principles of Computer and Data, Grade 10 syllabus. And we love computer games.

Some of these games contain false beliefs or misleading ideas or detested behavior. Some of these games glorify wizards and appoint them as your assistants in reaching the treasure, or may present a person in a priest’s appearance who sets out to save you from your predicament and bring you to safety.

OK, now for the test. Let's see who's been listening, and who's been looking out of the window.

1. What happens when you get male and female mixing ?

2. Name one Saudi bank that does not charge interest.

3. Why is Saudi National Day completely different from:
(i) May Day?
(ii) Mother's Day?
(iii) Ancient Zaroastrian holidays?
(iv) Maundy Thursday?
(v) Yom Kippur?

4. Why is sinful to speak English?

5. Why are you a bad parent if you send your child to a "missionary school"?

6. Name one Middle Eastern Muslim democracy, and explain why it is failing.

7. Why are suicide and AIDS an exclusively Western phenomenon?

8. The British Navy of the 1800's (Common Era) was described as being based on "Rum, Sodomy and The Lash". Which:
(i) Two of these do we consider sinful?
(ii) One of these do we consider a Good Idea?

9. You have been on your computer game for the last 7 hours. You keep phoning Domino's for another Pizza, which the Indonesian housemaid brings to your room, and you have now got to level 22. Suddenly a character appears on your screen. He says his name is "Izzy Cohen", and he can help you get past level 23 and via the secret passage all the way to level 27. Do you:
(i) Gratefully accept his offer of help?
(ii) Ignore him and have another slice of Pizza?
(iii) Zap him with your Neutroid gun, because with a name like that, he's possibly not a member of your tribe?

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