Poe and Keating Move to Hold Saudi Arabia Accountable for Teaching Hate and Anti-Semitism

Recently, Representatives Bill Keating (D-MA) and I introduced H.R. 4549, the bipartisan “Saudi Educational Transparency and Reform Act,” requiring the State Department to provide a report to Congress reviewing educational materials published by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Education. While Saudi Arabia has been a crucial ally in the fight against terrorism, their educational material fails to live up to our shared commitment to defeat the perverted ideology that inspires the terrorists that threaten both our countries.

The report will include assessments of what intolerant content remains, where it is being exported to, as well as what steps the Saudi government has taken to retrieve or destroy intolerant material. Additionally, the report requires a determination regarding whether the U.S. should continue issuing a longstanding waiver to Saudi Arabia under the International Religious Freedom Act despite Riyadh’s persistent designation as a Country of Particular Concern by the State Department.

Despite promises of change for nearly 15 years, Saudi Arabian textbooks-used to teach children both inside the Kingdom and abroad- are full of anti-Semitism, conspiracy theories and incitement to violence. For too long we have allowed Saudi Arabia to be both the arsonist and firefighter when fighting Islamic extremism. The current Saudi education curriculum has helped inspire the ideology and hatred that is at the heart of modern terrorist groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda. Some progress has been made – but this is too little too late. This legislation should come as a wake-up call to Riyadh - in the midst of massive changes in the Kingdom, Saudi Arabia has a real opportunity to clean up its textbooks once and for all.

“Saudi Arabia is a critical counterterrorism partner to the United States, and in order for them to be as effective in their mission as possible, they must be taking every effort to ensure their children – and children globally – are not being taught violence and prejudice with materials originating from their country,” said Rep. Keating. “We know the Saudi government has been taking steps to address this important concern, but they must act more swiftly to ensure its curriculum reflects the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s commitments to the United States and to the world on countering terrorism and violent extremism.”

 

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