27 February 2006

UAE Censorship in Private Schools

Our very good friend, the UAE, has seized all history textbooks from an American-operated private school, because it considers that the textbooks "smell of racism."

Just what did the UAE's Ministry of Education find to be offensive and racist? According to the Khaleej Times, the textbooks presented Islam and Muslim countries in the Middle East in a negative light and Israel in a positive light. To wit, "Israel is one of a few democracies in North Africa and the Middle East today. Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Morocco are all kingdoms; the country of Syria has sponsored terrorism by giving aid to radicals in the Palestine Liberation Organisation, known as the PLO."

Further, the article reports that "While there are clamour for change in the Middle East, one has to understand that these are the books coming from the so called 'free world'. This is a typical example of how textbooks are used to manipulate the thoughts of young minds," affirmed [Asst. Under Secretary to Foreign Private Education] Juma.

What's interesting is that the private school had been using the textbook, World Cultures, for a number of years without any problems. But now that the UAE is under closer world scrutiny, this comes up. Kind of makes one wonder just a bit more about the veracity of GW Bush's labelling of the UAE as a "good friend."

Can we now begin to expect that shipments coming into this country through UAE-operated ports will be seized if they are deemed to be offensive to the UAE?

Textbook of American school in capital seized over ‘smell of racism’

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