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Fun with Pig and Ape

Readers familiar with the work of Diane Ravitch will be aware that in the United States, no job demands more attention to detail than "textbook publisher." It falls on this unhappy soul to regulate carefully the children depicted: how many will be white or black, Inuit or Russian, rope-skipping or wheelchair-bound, slender or spherical, and on and on and on. Such lawsuit-minded caution is always good for a laugh, but did you know that publishers in other countries apply no less exacting (albeit quite different) standards? Take Great Britain and Saudi Arabia, where the representation of apes, pigs, jackals, hyenas, and bloodsuckers—and the diverse and marvelous things they teach us!—is paramount:

A Saudi-run school in London uses textbooks which describe Jews as monkeys and Christians as pigs, according to papers filed with an employment tribunal by a former teacher. Teaching materials used at the King Fahd school in Acton, west London, translated from Arabic for an unfair dismissal claim against the school, say Jews "engage in witchcraft and sorcery and obey Satan", and invite pupils to "name some repugnant characteristics of Jews" and to give examples of worthless religions, such as Judaism and Christianity. Colin Cook, 57, a British convert to Islam who taught English at the school for 19 years until he was dismissed last December, said pupils had been heard saying they wanted to kill Americans, that 9/11 was good, and that Osama bin Laden was a hero. He is claiming £100,000 compensation for unfair dismissal, race discrimination and victimisation. The school was originally set up to educate the children of Arab diplomats, but most of its 750 pupils are now British Muslims. It teaches Wahhabism, the dominant faith in Saudi Arabia, which is an extreme form of Islam that insists on a literal interpretation of the Qur'an.


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