Major Publishers Protest Saudi Textbook Content
An appeal to the government of Saudi Arabia to stop publishing hate-filled textbooks was issued today by seven current and former heads of major American publishing houses. Leading it was Robert Bernstein, formerly chairman of Random House and founder of Human Rights Watch, who is now the chairman of Advancing Human Rights. He was joined by the publisher at Amazon, the publisher of Simon and Schuster, a Reuters editor-at-large, the editorial director of Broadside Books (HarperCollins), and other prominent publishers.
I have researched and written about the toxic content of school textbooks published by the Saudi Ministry of Education for almost a decade and have found that little has changed in them over this period. Last year, I had the opportunity as a commissioner on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom to travel to Riyadh and meet with the Saudi minister of education, who is King Abdullah’s nephew and son-in-law, Prince Faisal Bin Abdullah Bin Muhammad al-Saud. The education minister acknowledged that 1–12 textbook reform was needed but indicated it was not a governmental priority. I also met with the Saudi justice minister Muhammad al-Issa and asked him why the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, an infamously anti-Semitic fabrication at the time of the Russian revolution, is included in the textbook on Hadiths (traditions of Islam’s Prophet Mohammed) where it continues to be taught as historical fact. The Saudi justice minister said that the Protocols is treated as part of Islamic culture because it is a book that has long been found in plentiful supply in Saudi Arabia (one of the relatively few non-Muslim books to be so), and was a book that his father had in his home. (continue reading...)