* Saudis sentence 20 foreigners to be whipped and several months in prison for dancing at a party
* Calls to replace GMT with Mecca Time
* Condi Rice criticized for calling Hamas a “resistance movement”
* Revealed: Saudi-funded school in London teaches five-year-olds that Christians are “pigs” and Jews are “repugnant”
1. “Saudis scuttled the Baker plan”
2. Baker group advisers “surprised” at report’s Israel-Iraq link
3. Saudi-funded school in London teaches a curriculum of hate
4. French navy plans exercises with Saudi Arabia
5. Saudis arrest Iraq insurgency funders
6. “Alcohol was served and men and women danced”
7. Rice ripped for calling Hamas a “resistance movement”
8. Arab calls to abolish GMT, institute Mecca time
9. Number of internet users in Jordan and Syria increasing
10. “After the Damascus Spring: Syrians search for freedom online” (Reason, Feb. 2007)
11. “Bush used Saudi warning to scuttle Baker plan for Iran talks” (Geostrategy, Feb. 7, 2007)
12. “Baker Group advisers ‘surprised,’ ‘upset’ at report’s Israel link” (Forward, Jan. 30, 2007)
13. “20 face lash for dancing in Saudi Arabia” (AP, Feb. 4, 2007)
14. “Saudi-funded school ‘teaches religious hatred’” (Daily Telegraph, Feb. 6, 2007)
This is a follow-up to the dispatch of Dec. 11, 2006 on the Iraq Study Group report (Iraq 28: “If we left now, we’d be back in again within a year”), in which the sub-heading was “James Baker, meet Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.” There are also a number of items below relating to Saudi Arabia, U.S. foreign policy, and the use of the Internet in the Arab world.
“SAUDIS SCUTTLED THE BAKER PLAN”
The widely-criticized recommendations of the Iraq Study Group were, apparently, blocked by the Saudi government. The Saudis were particularly aghast at James Baker’s calls for President Bush to open negotiations with Iran.
A diplomatic source told Geostrategy-Direct (article attached below) that the Saudis “warned through an unofficial channel that any U.S. deal that would strengthen Iran’s hold over the Gulf region would be seen as a hostile act. With Saudi Arabia providing about six percent of U.S. oil requirements, the threat was clear.”
“The Saudi argument helped Bush win his battle against ISG within his administration and in Congress… Sources said Bush discussed these issues with Baker, and the former secretary of state quietly backed down.”
BAKER GROUP ADVISERS “SURPRISED” AT REPORT’S ISRAEL-IRAQ LINK
Also attached below is an article revealing that “several advisers to the bipartisan Iraq Study Group were surprised and upset by the decision of its leaders to argue that American success in Iraq depended in part on progress in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
The panel was headed by James Baker, who served as secretary of state under the first President Bush, and Lee Hamilton, the former Democratic congressman from Indiana and vice-chairman of the 9/11 Commission.
One of the experts who advised the panel said most of his colleagues believed it was senseless to make a direct link between the Israeli-Arab conflict and Iraq. Another adviser commented: “Does anyone think that if we solve the [Israeli-Palestinian] conflict the insurgent in Fallujah will say, ‘Great, now I can put back my AK-47 and go home.’”
According to leaks, the chapter in the report linking Iraq to Israel was written by Edward Djerejian, a former ambassador to Syria and Israel with close ties to Baker, and Christopher Kojm, a former aide to Hamilton who has held senior positions in the State Department and the 9/11 Commission.
The professional staff on the panel came from the United States Institute of Peace, the federally funded think tank under whose auspices the Iraq Study Group operated. According to staff members, they were in fact never asked by the 10 members of the bipartisan panel to comment on the role that the U.S. should play in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
* For previous references to Djerejian on this list/website, see Up to 1400 Arab journalists rally to defend Zayed Center (Aug. 19, 2003).
SAUDI-FUNDED SCHOOL IN LONDON TEACHES A CURRICULUM OF HATE
A Saudi-funded Islamic school in London has been accused of “poisoning the minds of pupils as young as five with a curriculum of hate,” according to a report (attached below) in today’s (London) Daily Telegraph. Colin Cook, a Muslim convert, claims that text books used by children at the King Fahd Academy in Acton, west London, describe Jews as “repugnant” and Christians as “pigs”.
Cook, who taught English at the school for 18 years, is claiming unfair dismissal having been sacked for alleged misconduct relating to exams procedure. In his legal papers he claimed that the King Fahd Academy uses text books supplied by the Saudi government’s Ministry of Education.
“The schoolbooks presently in use describe Jews as ‘monkeys’ (or apes) and Christians as ‘pigs’.” Students are asked to “mention some repugnant characteristics of Jews,” and first year (grade) pupils are asked to “give examples of worthless religions, such as Judaism, Christianity, idol worship and others,” he said. He added that pupils were told 9/11 was a great act and Osama bin Laden was a “hero”.
Originally founded for the children of Saudi diplomats in London, the school now caters for children of British Muslims and devotes half its lessons to religious education teaching almost all classes in Arabic.
For more on Saudi school textbooks, see the second article in the dispatch “Much of Europe prefers a traditional Muslim woman who keeps her mouth shut” (May 22, 2006).
FRENCH NAVY PLANS EXERCISES WITH SAUDI ARABIA
The French navy announced at the weekend that it plans to hold exercises with the naval forces of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Three minesweepers will take part in a joint exercise with the Kuwaiti navy in mid-April. Talks are still ongoing with Saudi Arabia to determine the exact date for the exercises with the Saudis, said Rear Admiral Jacques Launay, commander of the French naval forces in the Indian Ocean. At least five French warships are always present in the Indian Ocean maritime zone.
SAUDIS ARREST IRAQ INSURGENCY FUNDERS
For the first time, as part of a deal worked out with the Bush administration (probably over Iran), the Saudis are cracking down on those funding the al Qaeda-aligned Sunni insurgency groups operating in Iraq.
The Saudi Interior Ministry has announced the detention of 10 Saudis suspected of these groups. A Saudi Interior Ministry spokesman said on Saturday that “They raised donations illegally and smuggled and transferred funds to suspicious bodies that use them to lure citizens and attract them into turbulent parts.”
The U.S. has consistently pressed Saudi Arabia to crack down on those funding al Qaeda aligned groups and “charities”.
“ALCOHOL WAS SERVED AND MEN AND WOMEN DANCED”
The penultimate article below reports that a “Saudi Arabian judge sentenced 20 foreigners to receive lashes and spend several months in prison after convicting them of attending a party where alcohol was served and men and women danced.”
They were charged with “drinking, arranging for impudent party, mixed dancing and shooting a video for the party,” according to the state-guided newspaper, Okaz.
If the arrested people are from Asian countries, such as India or the Philippines, it is unlikely that any outside governments will be able to pressure the Saudi authorities into rescinding their sentences. Western “human rights” groups, obsessed with demonizing Israel and the U.S., are unlikely to comment forcefully on this issue.
RICE RIPPED FOR CALLING HAMAS A “RESISTANCE MOVEMENT”
Some American Jewish leaders are criticizing remarks U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made during a press conference in Europe two weeks ago, in which she called Hamas a “resistance movement.”
Speaking in Berlin, on January 18, while discussing the situation for Palestinians prior to 2000, Rice said: “You had Hamas, of course, sitting out as a resistance movement, not at all, by the way, involved in the politics at all.”
Hamas is responsible for dozens of suicide bombings, shooting and rocket attacks – including many prior to 2000 – resulting in the murder of hundreds of Israelis, and is classified by the U.S. State Department as a terrorist organization. At least 27 Americans have been killed by Hamas.
The group’s official charter calls for the murder of Jews and quotes widely from the anti-Semitic creed, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
Mort Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, said, “Calling Hamas a resistance group… seems to reveal Rice may have some sympathy for Hamas’ cause… Rice makes a mockery of the American and Israeli war on Islamic terrorism. Would she ever call al-Qaeda a resistance group?”
In addition, a petition circulating on the internet has also called for Rice to apologize: “The only resistance by Hamas is resisting the lives of the many innocent victims of the bus bombings and other atrocities they have perpetrated against innocent people. Condi Rice must apologize to all the families and victims affected by Hamas terrorism.”
A spokesman confirmed the State Department has not changed its policy of classifying Hamas as a terror organization.
Some pro-Israel activists have been very unhappy with Rice’s forcing Israel to ease anti-terror roadblocks. Last November, Rice brokered an agreement that placed the Egypt-Gaza border, previously controlled by Israel, into the hands of Egyptian and Palestinian security officials and European monitors. Since then, huge quantities of arms have flowed in.
ARAB CALLS TO ABOLISH GMT, INSTITUTE MECCA TIME
Egyptian researcher Dr. Abd Al-Baset Al-Sayyed, from the Egyptian (Government) National Research Center has urged that Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) should be scrapped and replaced by Mecca Time.
Speaking on Mihwar TV, Al-Sayyed said, “When British colonialism was in control, and it was ‘an empire on which the sun never sets,’ it imposed Greenwich Mean Time. This creates two problems for the world. The first problem is that in Greenwich, the magnetic field of Earth is 8.5 degrees, whereas in Mecca the magnetic field is zero. If they calculated time according to Mecca, it would be the same in the northern and southern hemispheres.”
A number of other prominent people in the Muslim world have said they support Al-Sayyed’s idea. GMT was introduced in 1847.
NUMBER OF INTERNET USERS IN JORDAN AND SYRIA INCREASING
Five times as many people in Jordan used the internet in 2006 compared to five years earlier, according to the Jordanian government. The number of internet users in Jordan reached 630,000 last year, or twelve percent of Jordan’s population. Jordan is ranked sixth among Middle Eastern countries in terms of internet users. The United Arab Emirates has the most internet users in the Arab world, 1,400,000 people, or 36.1 percent of the population.
The full figures for internet penetration as of Jan. 11, 2007 are: Israel 51% of the population, UAE 36%, Qatar 27%, Kuwait 26%, Bahrain 21%, Lebanon 15%, Jordan 12%, Iran 11%, Saudi Arabia 11%, Oman 10%, Palestinian Authority 8%, Syria 6%, Yemen 1%, Iraq 0.1%
The growing use of the internet may have significant repercussions, either for the spread of democratic ideas, and/or for the spread of radical Islam.
I attach below a summary of a lengthy report by freelance journalist Guy Taylor, who has investigated internet use in Syria. He writes that “The last six years have seen an explosion of Internet use in Syria, with close to 1 million of the country’s 18 million people now online, compared to just 30,000 in 2000.”
However, the Syrian “government’s obsession with manipulating the content of independent sites and its apparent desire to extend traditional media restrictions into cyberspace raise the question of whether the country’s rulers merely seek to use the Internet as a tool to enhance their own power…”
I also attach four articles in full below.
-- Tom Gross
SYRIANS SEARCH FOR FREEDOM ONLINE
“After the Damascus Spring: Syrians search for freedom online” (By Guy Taylor, Reason, February 2007)
… The last six years have seen an explosion of Internet use in Syria, with close to 1 million of the country’s 18 million people now online, compared to just 30,000 in 2000. Outside observers say the surge will continue, with Syrian users “projected to exceed 1.7 million by 2009,” according to a recent study by the Jordan-based Arab Advisors Group. Damascus writers are already churning out hundreds of blogs in English and Arabic as well as dozens of broader independent news-and-commentary sites like Champress. The websites are run from homes and from more than two dozen cyber-cafés, where it costs about $1 to spend an hour online.
The technology is advancing so quickly that it seems impossible for Syrian authorities to maintain their stranglehold on the free flow of local news and ideas. Yet the government’s obsession with manipulating the content of independent sites and its apparent desire to extend traditional media restrictions into cyberspace raise the question of whether the country’s rulers merely seek to use the Internet as a tool to enhance their own power…
But today Reporters Without Borders ranks Syria as “one of the worst offenders against Internet freedom.” The organization’s 2006 report said the government “censors opposition and independent news websites, barring access to those that deal with Syrian policy, monitor[ing] online activity to silence dissident voices, and jailing Internet users and bloggers.”
… “Basically,” Amr Salem told me, “Syria is currently under attack, we have to admit that, by several powers, and if somebody writes, or publishes or whatever, something that supports the attack, they will be tried.”
… Qurabi also gave me a lengthy list of people jailed by the government for things they put on the Internet, some detained for years simply for writing their thoughts in emails. “In Syria, we do not have any laws regulating the Internet or websites,” Qurabi said. He didn’t mean that people are free to use the Net as they please. He meant that the limits are constantly shifting with the rulers’ subjective whims, so ordinary people are never sure where those limits are.
… The ambiguity of the government’s stance toward the Internet and toward freedom of the press reflects the generally ambiguous nature of Assad’s regime. The young president seems to dance a tight rope between appeasing hard-line allies of his father in Syria’s vast security apparatus and permitting technology such as the World Wide Web to undermine the government’s control of speech and opinion.
… The uncertainty has not stopped a growing number of Syrians, both supporters and detractors of the government, from making the Web an unprecedented haven for public discourse on news in general and repression in particular. “I think the whole Internet came to Syria because they can’t stop it and they want to use it to promote the new era,” said Maan Abdul-Salam, a pro-democracy dissident in Damascus whose women’s rights site, Thara (thara-sy.org/English/arabic/index.php), has operated without interference…
The full article, which is lengthy, can be read here.
BUSH USED SAUDI WARNING TO STOP THE BAKER PLAN
Bush used Saudi warning to scuttle Baker plan for Iran talks
February 7, 2007
President Bush didn’t like the recommendation of the Iraq Study Group that the United States should negotiate with Iran. But Bush’s biggest card was that Saudi Arabia, a major U.S. oil supplier, was dead set against the Iranian negotiations option.
The Saudis sent a series of messages to Bush warning that the ISG’s recommendation of a U.S.-sponsored accommodation with Iran would endanger Gulf stability. A diplomatic source said Riyad warned through an unofficial channel that any U.S. deal that would strengthen Iran’s hold over the Gulf region would be seen as a hostile act. With Saudi Arabia providing about six percent of U.S. oil requirements, the threat was clear.
The Saudi argument helped Bush win his battle against ISG within his administration and in Congress. Even the most ardent advocates of appeasement in the State Department realized that ISG cochairman James Baker had misread the Middle East map and U.S. strategic considerations. Sources said Bush discussed these issues with Baker, and the former secretary of state quietly backed down.
Under Bush, the U.S. effort in Iraq has been thoroughly coordinated with the Saudis. The Saudi royal family wants the U.S. military presence to remain for at least the next two years. King Abdullah has also obtained U.S. assurances that Iran would be “contained.”
In exchange, Riyad has agreed to become the unofficial sponsor of the Iraqi Sunni community in an effort to defeat Al Qaida’s domination. But translating the agreement into action is difficult amid the civil war in Baghdad.
“THE REPORT CAME OUT DEALING WITH THE ARAB-ISRAELI ISSUE IN AN UNSOPHISTICATED WAY”
Baker Group advisers ‘surprised,’ ‘upset’ at report’s Israel-Iraq link
By Nathan Guttman
January 30, 2007
Several advisers to the bipartisan Iraq Study Group were surprised and upset by the decision of panel leaders to argue that American success in Iraq depends in part on progress in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Forward has learned.
Issued eight weeks ago, the Iraq Study Group’s final report asserted that “the United States will not be able to achieve its goals in the Middle East unless the United States deals directly with the Arab-Israeli conflict.” The two co-chairmen of the panel – James Baker, who served as secretary of state under the first President Bush, and Lee Hamilton, a former Democratic congressman from Indiana and vice-chairman of the 9/11 Commission – have since advanced the argument in media interviews. Supporters of an increased American role in kick-starting the peace process have hailed the final report, while some pro-Israel activists and Jewish groups have worried that it could lead to pressure on Jerusalem.
Baker and Hamilton appeared Tuesday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as part of the ongoing discussion in the committee on ways to solve the Iraq situation. The committee’s Democratic chair, Senator Joseph Biden of Delaware, has already stated that he rejects the linkage the study group made between Israel and Iraq. “Even if a peace treaty were signed tomorrow, it would not end the civil war in Iraq,” Biden said during a January 17 hearing.
In interviews with the Forward, several of the experts who advised the panel said they were shocked that the Israeli-Palestinian issue was included in the final report, since they had been told not to address the matter in their recommendations. “They kept on telling us it is a sensitive issue and that it has too many political implications,” one of the experts said.
The objections went beyond process, with some advisers arguing to the Forward that progress in Israeli-Palestinian talks is desirable but would have little impact on the situation in Iraq. “Desirable as it may be, we cannot obtain progress in the Israeli-Palestinian front right now, and even if we could, it would take years and the impact on Iraq would be less significant than some think,” said Wayne White, a former State Department official and one of the expert advisers.
The study group’s expert advisers were divided among four different working groups based on their areas of expertise and offered up recommendations to the panel. The panel’s professional staffers then took these suggestions and used them to produce the final report that was eventually approved by Baker, Hamilton and the other eight members of the Iraq Study Group.
According to several advisers, the staffers who wrote the chapter in question were Edward Djerejian, a former ambassador to Syria and Israel with close ties to Baker, and Christopher Kojm, a former aide to Hamilton who held senior positions in the State Department and the 9/11 Commission.
One staff member argued that insisting on making a clear linkage between the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the situation in Iraq was “stupid” and “exposed the report to criticism.” That staff member pointed to Djerejian as the person who inserted the language regarding Israel.
Through a spokesman, Djerejian declined to comment on this issue.
At the Senate committee hearing this past Tuesday, Baker defended the decision to link progress in the Israeli-Arab conflict and progress in Iraq.
The former secretary of state said: “Some have asked us: What does the Arab-Israeli conflict have to do with the war in Iraq? Why make one problem harder by taking on two? The answer is simple. It is difficult to establish regional stability in the Middle East without addressing the Arab-Israeli issue. We want other countries, especially the Sunni Arab countries, to help us. When we go to talk to them about Iraq, they will want to talk about the Arab-Israeli conflict.”
Baker commended Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on her efforts to renew peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians, but said that he and Hamilton “feel particularly strong” that the United States is missing an opportunity by refusing to talk with Syria.
Later in the hearing, Baker said that an American dialogue with the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could lead Damascus to stop supporting Hezbollah militants in Lebanon and to pressure Hamas to recognize Israel, thus leading the way to a possible peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.
One adviser, James Dobbins of the Rand Corporation, disputed the notion that the views on the Israeli-Palestinian issue in the final report reflects only Djerejian’s beliefs. “It is consistent with what most of the members thought,” Dobbins said. “No Middle East expert thinks that solving the conflict will bring an end to all of the region’s problems, but it surely can help.”
Members of the so-called strategic environment working group – the one that would in theory have offered recommendations on Palestinian talks – told the Forward that their discussions on the issue were not reflected in the final report.
The professional staff of the United States Institute of Peace – the federally funded think tank under whose auspices the Iraq Study Group operated – was also surprised to see the final language of the report when it was presented by Baker and Hamilton. “We saw it for the first time when it was published, and we were as surprised as anyone else,” said one staff member, speaking on condition of anonymity.
According to the staff member, the working group on strategic environment was never asked by the 10 members of the bipartisan panel to deal with the role that the United States should play in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and received no guidance on this issue. Two members of the working group confirmed this account of events.
By June, most of the work in the expert groups was completed, but the 10 panel members decided not to finish the report before November’s mid-term elections, in order to remain above the political fray. So, at the start of the summer, the structure of the four separate working groups became more flexible and the experts from each group were also asked to participate in discussions relating to other groups.
As an intellectual exercise, members of the group dealing with Iraq’s strategic environment were asked to compose a “wish list” that would detail all the changes they would like to see in the region, regardless of their feasibility or political implications. It was as part of this exercise that the need to resolve the Israeli-Arab conflict based on United Nations resolutions 242 and 338 was mentioned.
Many staff members found the language of the final report disturbing, especially in the direct linkage it made between resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict and reaching stability in Iraq.
“Some of us were frustrated from the way it was all inserted in the last minute and from the language they chose,” said one of the professional staff members. “The report came out dealing with the Arab-Israeli issue in an unsophisticated way.”
Another staff member said that most of the advisers believed that it was senseless to assert a direct linkage between the Israeli-Arab conflict and Iraq. The staffer told of a joke that one of the advisers made when the issue came up: “Does anyone think that if we solve the [Israeli-Palestinian] conflict the insurgent in Fallujah will say, ‘Great, now I can put back my AK-47 and go home.’”
Israeli officials were low key in their response to the Iraq Study Group report, though Prime Minister Ehud Olmert did make clear that he does not believe the Bush administration sees a linkage between the situations in Israel and Iraq.
Members of the Iraq Study Group staff also criticized the fact that Israeli officials were not consulted, while almost all Arab ambassadors in the United States were interviewed by the panel. Once Israeli officials learned of the work being done by the study group regarding Israel, they contacted the United States Institute of Peace and were told that one Israeli had been interviewed – the Labor Party’s Ephraim Sneh, who at the time was a member of Knesset (he is now deputy minister of defense).
In sharp contrast to the dissension on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, the committee’s professional staff and expert advisers all agreed on the need for the United States to engage with Syria and Iran. They are very frustrated by the administration’s rejection of their recommendations on this issue.
“The issue of Iran was much more important for the future of Iraq than the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the reaction of the president to our recommendations regarding Iran is much more significant,” White said. “It became clear from the beginning that the president is not interested in any aspect of the diplomatic chapter in the report.”
Dobbins offered two theories to explain Bush’s refusal to engage with Tehran – according to one, the president is using Iran to divert public attention from Iraq and to have a scapegoat for the ongoing American failures there; the other is that Bush will eventually talk to Iran, but he is toughening his stand now in order to come to the talks from a better bargaining position.
Paul Stares, who served as the secretariat of the strategic environment group in the Baker-Hamilton panel, said he believes that Congress and public opinion can still make the report relevant. “There are many in Congress who believe that the group did a good job and will continue pointing to the report as a road map for the U.S. policy toward Iraq,” Stares said. But, he added, the report will not remain relevant forever. “At some point, the conditions on the ground will change and the report will be OBE [overcome by events], but we’re not close to that yet.”
SAUDI RELIGIOUS POLICE SENTENCE FOREIGNERS TO RECEIVE LASHES FOR DANCING AT A PARTY
20 face lash for dancing in Saudi Arabia
The Associated Press
February 4, 2007
A Saudi Arabian judge sentenced 20 foreigners to receive lashes and spend several months in prison after convicting them of attending a party where alcohol was served and men and women danced, a newspaper reported today.
The defendants were among 433 foreigners, including some 240 women, arrested by the kingdom’s religious police for attending the party in Jiddah, the state-guided newspaper Okaz said. It did not identify the foreigners, give their nationalities or say when the party took place.
Judge Saud al-Boushi sentenced the 20 to prison terms of three to four months and ordered them to receive an unspecified number of lashes, the newspaper said. They have the right to appeal, it added.
The prosecutor general charged the 20 with “drinking, arranging for impudent party, mixed dancing and shooting a video for the party,” Okaz said.
The paper said the rest of those arrested were awaiting trial.
Saudi Arabia follows a strict interpretation of Islam under which it bans alcohol and meetings between unrelated men and women.
The religious police, a force resented by many Saudis for interfering in personal lives, enjoys wide powers. Its officers roam malls, markets, universities and other public places looking for such infractions as unrelated men and women mingling, men skipping Islam’s five daily prayers and women with strands of hair showing from under their veil.
In May, the Interior Ministry restricted the powers of the religious police to just arresting suspects, because the police sometimes had held people incommunicado and insisted on taking part in ensuing investigations.
“THIS IS NOT ENGLAND. IT IS SAUDI ARABIA”
Saudi-funded school ‘teaches religious hatred’
By Caroline Davies and Graeme Paton
The (London) Daily Telegraph
February 6, 2007
A Saudi-funded Islamic school in London has been accused of poisoning the minds of pupils as young as five years with a curriculum of hate.
Colin Cook, 57, claims text books used by children at the King Fahad Academy in Acton, west London, describe Jews as “repugnant” and Christians as “pigs”.
The father-of-three, a Muslim convert, allegedly heard some of them saying they wanted to “kill Americans”, praising 9/11 and idolising Osama bin Laden as a “hero”.
Mr Cook, who taught English for 18 years at the Academy, was sacked from his £35,000-a-year post in December for alleged misconduct relating to the exams procedure. He is claiming £100,000 compensation for unfair dismissal, race discrimination and victimisation.
In legal papers lodged with Watford Employment Tribunal, he claims the Academy used text books by the Saudi government’s Ministry of Education which taught religious hate.
“The schoolbooks presently in use describe Jews as ‘monkeys’ (or apes) and Christians as ‘pigs’,” he says in the documents. Students are asked to “mention some repugnant characteristics of Jews”, and Year 1 pupils are asked to “give examples of worthless religions, such as Judaism, Christianity, idol worship and others”, he adds.
He also alleges that when he complained to school chiefs about the content of the curriculum and questioned whether it complied with British laws, he was told: “This is not England. It is Saudi Arabia”.
Originally founded for the children of Saudi diplomats in London, it now caters for children of British Muslims and devotes half of lessons to religious education teaching almost all classes in Arabic.
American human rights group Freedom House highlighted some of the textbooks for anti-Western and anti-Semitic views in its 2006 report called “Saudi Arabia’s Curriculum of Intolerance” citing one book which instructed students to wage Jihad against “the infidel” to “spread the faith”.
The Saudi government at the time did admit some of the books were “inexcusable” but denied they were being used outside Saudi Arabia. A sister school of the Academy in Bonn, which has the same name, has previously been singled out by the German intelligence services as being a meeting place for extremists.
Speaking today Mr Cook, of Feltham, south London, said the school had been “very good” until the majority of British teachers left in 2005, and claimed “there had been a move towards a pro-Saudi agenda”.
He added: “It is clearly very divisive. The vast majority of Muslims, including myself, are law-abiding, tolerant of others and peaceful.”
Mr Cook claims he was sacked after blowing the whistle on pupils cheating to examining board Edexcel in August 2006. The school denies his allegations and says he was rightly dismissed.
The Academy declined to comment today. But its new female principal, Dr Sumaya Alyusuf, told the Daily Telegraph last month that it had dropped the Saudi curriculum following complaints from parents it failed to prepare children for life in the UK.
The move followed an investigation in 2004 which found that the Academy was teaching British children “fundamentalist” Islam and allegedly giving girl pupils an inferior education.
However, the school has denied that its pupils have ever been subjected to extremist teaching.
A report by Ofsted, the education watchdog, in March last year praised the school for offering pupils “a balanced education and opportunities to develop their intellect and skills”.