Saudi Arabia has for the first time removed texts from its curricula that incite hatred towards other religions in the new editions of school textbooks, according to a report by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education.
According to Time magazine, Saudi Arabia has embarked on new reform measures, represented by removing materials that contain offensive language towards other religions, and replacing them with more moderate and tolerant texts.
The magazine pointed out that the new amendments included the removal of hate lessons, whether towards Christianity or Judaism, and even against homosexuals, in addition to the Islamic dictates of defending the faith using violence.
A spokesman for the Saudi Embassy in Washington, Fahad Nazer, said that Saudi education officials found “some materials that were considered objectionable and offensive” in the Kingdom’s textbooks and made “concerted efforts to remove all of these materials from the entire curriculum” and to replace “these offensive materials with lessons that were taught.”
However, the report of the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education, which is based in Jerusalem, did not note any new additions to the parts deleted during the recent revisions.
The Executive Director of the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education, Marcus Schiff, said, “This change calls for optimism… It is a real institutional effort at the highest levels to modernize the educational curricula in Saudi Arabia.”
According to the report, the most intolerant parts of these curricula were omitted, including the death penalty in all its forms for “adultery, acts of homosexuality and acts of witchcraft,” according to the previous description of these curricula.
Two US State Department officials told Time magazine that the credit for the new changes is due to the young Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, adding, “The administration supports textbooks free of intolerance and violence, and also supports the development of the Saudi teacher training program.”
The two officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirm that President Donald Trump has given the Saudi Crown Prince space to conduct reforms in the country by paying attention to the Kingdom’s concerns about Iran’s regional ambitions.
Mohammed bin Salman has undertaken landmark social reforms since becoming Crown Prince in the oil-rich Gulf kingdom in 2017, as he strengthened women’s rights in particular by allowing women to drive, obtain passports, and travel abroad without permission from a guardian.