Prince Turki al-Faisal, the Saudi ambassador to the United States, has worked aggressively to spread this message. "The kingdom has reviewed all of its education practices and materials, and has removed any element that is inconsistent with the needs of a modern education," he said on a recent speaking tour to several U.S. cities. "Not only have we eliminated what might be perceived as intolerance from old textbooks that were in our system, we have implemented a comprehensive internal revision and modernization plan."
True? Not exactly. Check out some of the admonitions still found in Saudi teaching materials --
"Every religion other than Islam is false."
"Fill in the blanks with the appropriate words (Islam, hellfire): Every religion other than ______________ is false. Whoever dies outside of Islam enters ____________."
"True belief means . . . that you hate the polytheists and infidels but do not treat them unjustly."
"Whoever obeys the Prophet and accepts the oneness of God cannot maintain a loyal friendship with those who oppose God and His Prophet, even if they are his closest relatives."
"It is forbidden for a Muslim to be a loyal friend to someone who does not believe in God and His Prophet, or someone who fights the religion of Islam."
"A Muslim, even if he lives far away, is your brother in religion. Someone who opposes God, even if he is your brother by family tie, is your enemy in religion."
"Just as Muslims were successful in the past when they came together in a sincere endeavor to evict the Christian crusaders from Palestine, so will the Arabs and Muslims emerge victorious, God willing, against the Jews and their allies if they stand together and fight a true jihad for God, for this is within God's power."
"As cited in Ibn Abbas: The apes are Jews, the people of the Sabbath; while the swine are the Christians, the infidels of the communion of Jesus."
"God told His Prophet, Muhammad, about the Jews, who learned from parts of God's book [the Torah and the Gospels] that God alone is worthy of worship. Despite this, they espouse falsehood through idol-worship, soothsaying, and sorcery. In doing so, they obey the devil. They prefer the people of falsehood to the people of the truth out of envy and hostility. This earns them condemnation and is a warning to us not to do as they did."
"They are the Jews, whom God has cursed and with whom He is so angry that He will never again be satisfied [with them]."
"Some of the people of the Sabbath were punished by being turned into apes and swine. Some of them were made to worship the devil, and not God, through consecration, sacrifice, prayer, appeals for help, and other types of worship. Some of the Jews worship the devil. Likewise, some members of this nation worship the devil, and not God."
"The clash between this [Muslim] community (umma) and the Jews and Christians has endured, and it will continue as long as God wills."
"It is part of God's wisdom that the struggle between the Muslim and the Jews should continue until the hour [of judgment]."
"Muslims will triumph because they are right. He who is right is always victorious, even if most people are against him."
The 10th-grade text on jurisprudence teaches that life for non-Muslims (as well as women, and, by implication, slaves) is worth a fraction of that of a "free Muslim male." Blood money is retribution paid to the victim or the victim's heirs for murder or injury:
"Blood money for a free infidel. [Its quantity] is half of the blood money for a male Muslim, whether or not he is 'of the book' or not 'of the book' (such as a pagan, Zoroastrian, etc.).
"Blood money for a woman: Half of the blood money for a man, in accordance with his religion. The blood money for a Muslim woman is half of the blood money for a male Muslim, and the blood money for an infidel woman is half of the blood money for a male infidel."
"The greeting 'Peace be upon you' is specifically for believers. It cannot be said to others."
"If one comes to a place where there is a mixture of Muslims and infidels, one should offer a greeting intended for the Muslims."
"Do not yield to them [Christians and Jews] on a narrow road out of honor and respect."
"Jihad in the path of God -- which consists of battling against unbelief, oppression, injustice, and those who perpetrate it -- is the summit of Islam. This religion arose through jihad and through jihad was its banner raised high. It is one of the noblest acts, which brings one closer to God, and one of the most magnificent acts of obedience to God."
So how's that battle for Arab hearts and minds going?