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      Saudi-Funded UN Agency Seeks to Edit Textbooks Worldwide

      The UN agency that promotes education and which is heavily funded by Saudi Arabia, is seeking to edit school textbooks worldwide.
      By Rachel Hirshfeld
      First Publish: 10/18/2012, 10:44 AM

      Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Nayef
      Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Nayef
      Reuters

      The UN agency that promotes education and which is heavily funded by Saudi Arabia, is seeking to edit school textbooks worldwide.

      Saudi Arabia, along with much of the Arab world, is notorious for publishing grade-school textbooks that advocate hate and aggression against Jews, Christians and all “non-believers”.

      Yet, experts from 21 countries met in Paris last month at a meeting financed by a $29,000 Saudi donation and focused, in part, on "ways to ensure that content aimed at students systematically reflects cultural and religious diversity, and avoids gender stereotypes," according to the website of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

      Then, last week, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah donated $20 million to UNESCO's emergency fund, Fox News reported.

      Author of the upcoming book "Saudi School Books: Objective Education or Extremist Indoctrination?", Ali AlAhmed affirmed that, "Saudi textbooks are extremely hateful and full of xenophobic texts."

      Saudi funding "shows how xenophobic governments like [that of] the Saudis are able to buy influence," Al Ahmed said, according to Fox News.

      He said UNESCO was failing to uphold "value and standards of education and tolerance" and warned that UNESCO and the UN system as a whole are "susceptible to financial buyouts from countries like Saudi Arabia."

      Saudi Arabian children are taught, among other things that, “Adhering to Islam is the only path to enter heaven, and escape hellfire” and "It is from Islam to love Muslims, and to hate the unbelievers and not to imitate them." The textbooks also indoctrinate children to believe that "Examples of false religions [include] Judaism, Christianity."

      Nonetheless, a UNESCO official has said that the financial support of all members, including Saudi Arabia, is welcomed.

      "Each country has the ultimate responsibility for the content of its national textbooks," said Qian Tang, UNESCO's assistant director general for education, according to Fox. "UNESCO's aim is to encourage and support those responsible (in ministries of education) for the writing and production of textbooks to reflect on how textbook content should promote respect and tolerance for diversity and eliminate all forms of negative stereotypes. "

      However, Brooke Goldstein, director of The Lawfare Project, a non-profit legal think-tank based in New York asserted that, "Posturing as though Saudi Arabia's contribution to UNESCO is somehow going to better reflect cultural and religious diversity and avoid gender stereotypes is an outright lie."

      "By working with Saudi Arabia to revise its children's curriculum, UNESCO is not only legitimizing the Kingdom's hate-education system, but abetting the premeditated murder of innocent Muslim children and fomenting educational conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism," he said, according to Fox. "It should be no surprise, but is nonetheless of utmost concern, that the Saudis are actively working to influence UNESCO's education curriculum."

      In a scathing editorial in The Daily Beast on Wednesday, major American publishers—including a former Random House chairman, a CEO of Time Warner Book Group and publisher at Amazon, a publisher of Simon and Schuster, among others—denounced Saudi textbooks for inciting hatred and promoting intolerance.

      “As current and former heads of major American publishing houses, we know the value of words. They inform actions and shape the world views of all, especially children. We are writing to express our profound disappointment that the Saudi government continues to print textbooks inciting hatred and violence against religious minorities,” the editorial stated.