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Saudi Academy in Va. revises Islamic history books
by Matthew Barakat
An Islamic school in northern Virginia with close ties to the Saudi government has revised its religious textbooks in an effort to end years of criticism that the school fosters hatred and intolerance.
While the Islamic Saudi Academy deleted some of the most contentious passages from the texts, copies provided to The Associated Press show that enough sensitive material remains to fuel critics who claim the books show intolerance toward those who do not follow strict interpretations of Islam.
The academy, which teaches nearly 900 students in grades K-12 at its campus just outside the Capital Beltway, developed new Islamic studies textbooks for all grades after a 2008 congressional report called portions of the previous editions troubling. The school provided the AP copies of the new textbooks, which revise language on hot-button issues such as requiring women to cover their heads and how Muslims should relate to people of other religions.
School officials say the books are part of the school's effort to promote universal values of tolerance and kindness and modernize some of the lessons.
They've had to make similar defenses before.
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