WASHINGTON -- A top textbook consultant shaping classroom education
on Islam in American public schools recently worked for a school
funded and controlled by the Saudi government, which propagates a
rigidly anti-Western strain of Islam, a WorldNetDaily investigation
The consultant, Susan L. Douglass, has also praised Pakistan's
madrassa schools as "proud symbols of learning," even after the U.S.
government blamed them for fueling the rise of the Taliban and al-Qaida.
Douglass, routinely described as a "scholar" or "historian," has
edited manuscripts of world history textbooks used by middle and high
school students across the country. She's also advised state education
boards on curriculum standards dealing with world religion, and has
helped train thousands of public school teachers on Islamic
In effect, she is responsible for teaching millions of American
children about Islam, experts say, while operating in relative
WorldNetDaily has learned that up until last year Douglass taught
social studies at the Islamic Saudi Academy in Alexandria, Va., which
teaches Wahhabism through textbooks that condemn Jews and Christians
as infidels and enemies of Islam. Her husband, Usama Amer, still
teaches at the grades 2-12 school, a spokeswoman there confirmed. Both
are practicing Muslims.
The Saudi government funds the school, which has a sister campus in
"It is a school that is under the auspices of the Saudi Embassy,"
said Ali al-Ahmed, executive director of the Washington-based Saudi
Institute, a leading Saudi opposition group. "So the minister of
education appoints the principal of the school, and the teachers are
paid by the Saudi government."
He says many of the academy's textbooks he has reviewed contain
passages promoting hatred of non-Muslims. For example, the
eleventh-grade text says one sign of the Day of Judgment will be when
Muslims fight and kill Jews, who will hide behind trees that say: "Oh
Muslim, oh servant of God, here is a Jew hiding behind me. Come here
and kill him."
Al-Ahmed, a Shiite Muslim born in predominantly Sunni Muslim Saudi
Arabia, says the school's religious curriculum was written by Sheik
Saleh al-Fawzan, a senior member of the Saudi religious council, who
he said has "encouraged war against unbelievers." Al-Fawzan has
authored textbooks used in Saudi schools.
A report released last year by the
on International Religious Freedom found that the Saudi Ministry
of Education publishes texts presenting Islam as "the only true
religion" and denouncing all other religions as "invalid" and
"Christians and Jews repeatedly are labeled as infidels and enemies
of Islam who should not be befriended or emulated, and are referred to
in eighth-grade textbooks as 'apes and pigs,'"
report said. In addition, it found that "some Saudi
government-funded textbooks used in North American Islamic schools
have been found to encourage incitement to violence again
Critics complain that Douglass, who taught at the Saudi academy for
at least a decade, has convinced American textbook publishers and
educators to gloss over the violent aspects of Islam to make the faith
more appealing to non-Muslim children. The units on Islam reviewed by
WND appear to give a glowing and largely uncritical view of the faith.
Asked about it, Douglass referred questions to the Council on
Islamic Education, which did not respond. CIE's
website lists her in its staff
directory as a "principal researcher and writer."
CIE is a Los Angeles-based Muslim activist group run by Shabbir
Mansuri, who has been quoted in the local press saying he's
"bloodless" revolution to fight what he calls anti-Muslim bias in
public schools and promote Islam in a positive light in American
classrooms. Mansuri, who consults with Saudi education ministers at
claimed in a 2002 op-ed piece that Islam has been on American soil
"since before this nation was founded."
Also, he spoke at a 2001 Islamic conference with several Muslim
extremists, including an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World
Trade Center bombing, according to a speakers schedule for the event
obtained by WND.
The three major U.S. publishers of world history texts – Houghton
Mifflin, McGraw Hill and Prentice Hall – have all let Mansuri and
Douglass review their books. In fact, Houghton Mifflin's seventh-grade
text, "Across the Centuries," was republished according to CIE's
In the past, most K-12 texts devoted no more than a few pages to
Islam. But thanks to CIE's efforts since 1990 – including lobbying
state education boards – grade-school text units on Islam have
the Centuries," for one, spends more than 30 pages on Islam and
includes colorful prose and graphics.
But it offers a sanitized version of Islam, critics say.
For instance, the text softens the meaning of "jihad" – a concept
interpreted in Abdullah Yusuf Ali's
"The Meaning of the Holy Quran" to mean "waging war," or "fighting
in Allah's cause" – with dying while fighting in the cause being the
highest form of jihad.
Holy war is not part of the definition found in the "Across the
Centuries" textbook, however.
"An Islamic term that is often misunderstood is jihad," the text
says on page 64. "The term means 'to struggle,' to do one's best to
resist temptation and overcome evil."
One of CIE's teachers guides lists quitting smoking as an example
"It's a sugar-coated definition," said Edward White, associate
counsel for the Thomas More Law
Center, an Ann Arbor, Mich.-based public-interest law firm which
has fought what it sees as Islamic indoctrination in U.S. public
Esposito, considered by critics to be one of Islam's leading
apologists, has written that "jihad means the struggle to spread and
to defend Islam" – through "warfare" if necessary.
Houghton Mifflin's high school world history textbook,
"Patterns of Interaction," used in Texas and other states,
reportedly leaves jihad out altogether.
White argues Houghton Mifflin has published an unrealistic picture
of Islam, and has been manipulated by CIE, which clearly has a
The Boston-based publisher denies it. A spokesman called the
However, its editorial director for school social studies told a
Muslim website in 1999 that it's also allowed CIE to critique its
coverage of Christian history, and to add its view of what the
Crusades were like for the Muslims.
The article, posted on
Sound Vision.com, a marketer of Muslim educational products,
quotes Houghton Mifflin editor Abigail Jungreis as saying, "We've had
a really good relationship with them (CIE) over the years. Their
reviewers are knowledgeable."
Jungreis singles out Douglass for praise in the article.
Douglass has argued for more in-depth coverage of Islam in
classrooms, while at the same time advising that Christian principles,
including historic facts such as Christ's crucifixion, are clearly
qualified with attributions such as "Christians believe."
Houghton Mifflin is not the only major publisher influenced by CIE.
Prentice Hall also collaborates with the group. And its
to Today," which is the most widely used world history book in the
country, instructs students that jihad is an "inner struggle to
achieve spiritual peace," according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Also, CIE has helped write supplemental teachers materials that
engage children in entertaining Muslim role-playing activities in the
class. Parents say they make the study of Christianity and other
religions seem dull by comparison.
A CIE-edited teachers aid used in California schools became the
subject of a federal First Amendment case last year,
as WorldNetDaily reported. The Thomas More Law Center sued a San
Francisco-area school district on behalf of parents of seventh-graders
who were required to "become Muslims" for two weeks as part of their
world history unit on Islam.
However, U.S. District Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton, a Clinton
dismissed the lawsuit against the Byron Union School District,
arguing the Muslim unit does not promote religion, and therefore does
not violate the First Amendment's clause against religious
White, the lawyer in the case, says he's filed an appeal to
overturn the ruling.
The controversial role-playing module, which CIE helped write,
requires kids to recite Muslim prayers and verses of the Quran in
class. Students also are required to give up things like watching TV
or eating candy for a day to simulate Islamic fasting during the
Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
"From the beginning, you and your classmates will become Muslims,"
the Student Guide portion of the Islam module instructs
seventh-graders as an introduction to the material.
White notes that the module, titled "Islam: A simulation of Islamic
history and culture," also white-washes the meaning of jihad, calling
it a "struggle against oppression."
According to a copyright statement on page 91 of the module
obtained by WorldNetDaily, its California-based publisher, Interaction
Publishers Inc., agreed to allow CIE "to revise the original
manuscript" after CIE protested "errors of fact and interpretation in
Western historians' presentation of Islam."
"They had a hand in the revisions to this handbook," White
The same page states that the publisher also incorporated
suggestions by Yousef Salem, associate director of the Islamic
Education and Information Center in San Jose, Calif. Salem, a former
Saudi resident, has praised the Muslim terrorist group Hezbollah, and
called Israelis "terrorists."
The module mirrors parts of the middle-school religious curriculum
at the Islamic Saudi Academy where Douglass taught, and where her
husband still teaches.
For instance, the Islamic religion coursework for Grade 7
emphasizes, among other things, the "importance of reciting the
according to the academy's website. Eighth-graders, moreover,
study "fasting" and "pilgrimage." (They also study Quranic verses that
deal with "the Punishment of the Disbelievers.")
The California Department of Education, which requires all
seventh-grade world history courses to include a unit on Islam,
approved the text and module. In 1998, the state overhauled its
standards for its Islam unit to include more teaching about the Muslim
prophet Muhammad and the Quran. Mansuri made numerous trips to
Sacramento to lobby for the changes, and the department invited CIE to
review its draft.
Many California parents say the state essentially is allowing
Muslim activists to brainwash their kids into accepting Islam, while
at the same time marginalizing Christianity.
In contrast to the seventh-grade Muslim unit, where children are
first introduced to Islam, the earlier one on Christianity does not
involve any role play. Students are not asked to recite Christian
prayers or memorize Scripture.
Moreover, parents argue that neither the Islam chapter nor the
role-playing module critically discuss the anti-Christian jihads of
old, or new ones led by Islamic terrorists like Osama bin Laden. In
fact, Byron teachers warned students against saying anything negative
about Islam, U.S. court documents show.
And Islam is praised for tolerance and acceptance of other beliefs.
Yet the unit on Christianity is critical of that core American
faith, particularly concerning the Crusades (which came on the heels
of earlier Islamic invasions of non-Muslim territory).
One local parent, Jen Shroder, told WND she worries California may
be unwittingly producing more John Walker Lindhs. Lindh, who joined
the Taliban, was a product of San Francisco public schools.
"John Walker Lindh is the fruit of California's efforts. He was a
young impressionable child, just as my son is," she said. "How many
more John Walkers before we stop promoting Islam in public schools?"
She and other critics charge CIE is not just interested in
correcting factual or historical errors in textbooks. They say it has
a hidden agenda: using public schools to promote Islam. And to do
that, they say, it must first make it less threatening to
nonbelievers, and more mainstream.
But in an October 2002 white paper, Douglass argued schools should
respect the First Amendment and avoid indoctrinating students into
"Teaching about religion should neither promote nor denigrate the
ideals of any faith," she wrote.
At the same time, however, she warned teachers against "presenting
non-Western religions as static traditions whose unfamiliarity to
students can make them seem irrational."
And in the same article,
"Teaching about Religion," she defended Pakistan's madrassas,
which U.S. officials in the wake of the 9-11 attacks condemned as
hatcheries for future bin Ladens.
According to Douglass, the Islamic schools, where young Muslim boys
endlessly chant verses from the Quran, are "proud symbols of learning"
which "have become confused in the public mind with symbols of
Douglass and other staffers at CIE have trained more than 8,000
public school teachers in America on Islam instruction, according to
the SoundVision.com article. The center has sold hundreds of copies of
its teachers guide to public schools. Besides holding teacher
workshops, CIE staffers also lecture at schools and colleges about
'Islam an American religion'
Douglass is associated with another Muslim activist group, one that
is under federal investigation.
From 1988 to 1994, she wrote K-6 social studies books for the
International Institute of Islamic Thought, or IIIT, a Saudi-tied
charity. Federal authorities in 2002 raided IIIT's Northern Virginia
offices on suspicion of terrorist ties.
Shortly after the raids, Mansuri defended the group's officials as
"law-abiding Muslims" in a column distributed by the State
Department's Office of International Information Programs.
IIIT president Taha Jaber al-Alwani once signed a copy of a fatwa
declaring that jihad is the only way to liberate Palestine, according
federal affidavit for the search warrant.
He's also close to Sami al-Arian, recently arrested on
In the same 2002 column, "Muslims Due Place at Table," Mansuri
asserted: "Islam is an American religion," adding that "Islam has been
on this soil since before the nation was founded, having come over
with African slaves."
In July 2001, Mansuri spoke at the Islamic Circle of North
America's convention in Cleveland with New York imam Siraj Wahhaj, who
was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade
Center bombing, and with Sheik Abdur Rahman al-Sudais, the senior imam
at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, who has been quoted vilifying Jews as
the "scum of humanity" and "the grandsons of monkeys and pigs."
The previous year Mansuri also appeared with Wahhaj at a
fund-raising banquet hosted by the Saudi-backed
American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR. Mansuri received an award for
helping to eliminate Muslim stereotypes.
officials recently have been arrested on terrorism-related charges.
Nonetheless, the Washington-based Muslim-rights group has launched
a coast-to-coast drive to stock public libraries with Islamic books as
part of its campaign to educate Americans on the "peaceful" attributes
One of the books on its recommended reading list:
"Beyond a Thousand and
One Nights" by Susan L. Douglass