The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, a federal panel that reports to Congress has recommended that the Islamic Saudi Academy in Virginia (ISA) be shut down until it can verify that the school is not promoting religious extremism.
The panel’s main argument, which is extremely is extremely weak and reeks of the now common place bigotry that we have seen in play in the Dubai Ports World fiasco and the forced resignations of Debbie Almontaser and Dr. Esam Omeish that the school is funded by the Saudi Embassy and that the panel believes (keyword “believes”, with no actual verifiable evidence or criticism) that the school’s curriculum is in some ways similar to that of schools in Saudi Arabia.
The commission does not offer specific criticism of the academy’s teachings beyond its concerns that it too closely mimics a typical Saudi education.
The school’s director-general, Abdalla I. Al-Shabnan, said Wednesday that he had not seen the report. But he said the academy has adjusted its curriculum in recent years and removed some of the inflammatory language that had been included in the Saudi text. The school’s curriculum may now serve as a model for the Saudi government to use in continuing its reform of Saudi schools, he said.
“There is nothing in our curriculum against any religion,” Al-Shabnan said.
He also said he is willing to show the school’s curriculum and textbooks to anybody who wants to see them, and he expressed disappointment that the commission did not request materials directly from the school.