Islamic School Books Hint at Radicalism

The Jakarta Post, page 2

Muslim students of junior high schools across Indonesia learn from their Islamic text books that Jews are “sly and untrustworthy” despite the fact that several verses in the Quran share positive stories about Jews.

Such anti-Semitism is well recorded in at least two Islamic school books for grades seven and eight, published and distributed by the Culture and Education Ministry, on pages 197 and 8-9, respectively.

The two books are reading material for around 10 million junior high school students across the country.

In Indonesia, it is common for students, and Indonesians in general, to have a negative perception of Jewish people despite the fact that they rarely, or never, interact with them.

Apart from intolerance campaigns, Islamic textbooks also supposedly promote a violent ideology, according to a recent study conducted by the Center for Islamic and Society Studies (PPIM) at Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University in South Tangerang, Banten.

The researchers, who conducted field studies in Jombang in East Java, Bandung and Depok in West Java, as well as Jakarta, analyzed dozens of Islamic textbooks from elementary schools, junior high schools and high schools that are read by around 40 million students in Indonesia.

The study claims that Islamic books, at the elementary school it examined, taught students about Islamic exclusivity by declaring non-Muslims as kafir or infidels.

Meanwhile, books at junior high schools introduce religious stereotypes that describe non-Muslims, including Jews, as “filth”.

In addition, values promoted in parts of senior high school Islamic books include the establishment of a caliphate as well as the rejection of democracy as introduced by Sunni Islamism founder and cleric Abul Ala Mawdudi.

In a case study conducted in Jombang, East Java, the PPIM found in student modules or LKS the sentence “only Allah is the one we should worship, and those who don’t worship Allah are musyrik and are liable to be killed”.

The insertion of intolerance and radical ideology in school textbooks raises concerns over the ministry’s ability to prevent the inclusion of radical ideology in books it publishes.

Culture and Education Minister Muhadjir Effendy said his predecessor Anies Baswedan in 2015 had withdrawn controversial Islamic books and revised them and the ministry had set up a joint team to monitor the writing and publication of books at the ministry. Muhadjir said, the team comprises representatives from the Religious Affairs Ministry and [moderate] Islamic organizations.

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