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Extremist books withdrawn from Saudi schools

February 17, 2011

Al Arabiya, 16 Feb 2011: The Saudi Ministry of Education issued a resolution to withdraw from the libraries of public schools several books seen as inciting violence and prohibited book donations without prior approval.

Books accused of having a negative impact on school students like the writings of leaders of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood like Sheikh Hassan al-Banna, the group’s founder, and Sayyed Qotb, one of the group’s most leading thinkers, the London-based al-Hayat newspaper reported Tuesday.

The ministry announced its plan to conduct regular visits to school libraries to ensure that those and similar books are no longer available for students.

Dr. Mohammed al-Zulafi, former member of the Shura Council, said this step came too late.

“School libraries have always contained books that promote violence and extremism,” he told Al Arabiya. “The writings of Muslim Brotherhood leaders have had a strong influence on education in Saudi Arabia for the past three decades.”

Zulafi expressed his skepticism about the implementation of the ministry’s decision since a large portion of librarians in those schools adopt the very views in the banned books.

“I call upon citizens to take part in implementing this decision. They have to know what happens inside those schools.”

Zulafi added that for a long time, extremist books have been flooding school libraries while there were restrictions on art books that talk about arts or the values of tolerance and moderation.

“There are people who support the circulation of those books. Some even print them and distribute them for free without taking into consideration the grave consequences on the students.”

Zulafi warned that those books are not only in schools, but also in several other places like doctors’ clinics. That is why, he said, there has to be a plan to withdraw them from all over the kingdom.

“If those books are not withdrawn, our youths will end up in Somalia or Tora Bora in Afghanistan because of the extremist ideas they read,” he concluded.

(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)


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