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Islamic academy revises controversial textbooks

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In recent years, there have been questions about the nature of the instruction at the Islamic Academy in Alexandria, Va. The school, which has close ties to the Saudi government, was founded in 1984 but came under outside scrutiny only after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Since then, there have been charges that the school's textbooks teach intolerance. Last year, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom released a report detailing passages from the school's textbooks that say it is permissible for Muslims to kill adulterers and converts from Islam. Another passage highlighted said that, "the Jews conspired against Islam and its people."

Now the school has revised its texts to promote more tolerance, according to school officials.

But a report by the Associated Press today questions whether the school has gone far enough. The AP says the new textbooks "disparage" Christians and Jews for not accepting Islam, quoting from an 11th-grade textbook that says, "Scholars of the People of the Book know that Islam is the true path because they find it in their books. But they shy away out of ignorance and stubbornness. And God knows their deeds and will judge them."

But the school's director, Abdulrahman Alghofaili, told the AP that claims by Muslims to "set themselves apart as singular representatives of divine truth and the path to salvation" are no different from those of Christians and Jews.

The passage in the textbook, he told the AP, is no different from the First Commandment, which states, "You shall have no other gods before me."

Alghofaili also said that the changes were intended to modernize the texts and not to appease outside critics.


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