Gone is a section on sodomy that was supportive of capital punishment for homosexual relations. Gone are most adulations of extremist martyrdom and its characterization as the highest aspiration of Islam. Anti-Semitic references and calls to “fight Jews” are now far fewer, with the latest edition of a 10th-grade textbook having removed a passage quoting the prophet Muhammad as saying, “The [Day of Judgement] will not come until Muslims fight the Jews, and the Muslims will kill them [all].”
The Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se), an Israel-based group that monitors school curriculums, welcomed the changes. The group’s chief executive, Marcus Sheff, called them “quite astonishing.”
But some concerns about anti-Semitic themes remain. One textbook still includes a story about a Jewish boy who is saved from hell by being converted to Islam.
Another passage refers to a Koranic text that describes God changing a group of Jews into “real monkeys.” A review by IMPACT-se in December said the Saudi textbook ruled out “other, gentler interpretations” of the episode that treat the passage metaphorically.