New York taxpayers could find themselves supporting religious and ethnic hatred taught in private Islamic schools, if a voucher plan is ever adopted in that state.
A recent survey of six textbooks used in Islamic academies in New York City and the surrounding area found the books rife with anti-Semitism and misinformation about Christianity.
The survey was done by the New York Daily News, which concluded that the books "contain passages that are blatantly anti-Semitic, condemning Jews as a people, repeating old canards about the Jews wanting to kill Christ and faking their Holy Scriptures to mock God."
The books, the newspaper asserted, "are rife with inaccuracies, sweeping condemnations of Jews and Christians, and triumphalist declarations of Islam's supremacy."
One book, What Islam Is All About, states that Jews "subscribe to a belief in racial superiority" and that their religion "even teaches them to call down curses upon the worship places of non-Jews whenever they pass by them!" The same book, which is designed for grades six through eight, asserts "Christians also worship statues."
The book goes on to make the allegation that "many" Christians and Jews "lead such decadent and immoral lives that lying, alcohol, nudity, pornography, racism, foul language, premarital sex, homosexuality and everything else are accepted in their society, churches and synagogues."
A second textbook, Mercy to Mankind, reads, "Allah revealed to Muhammed that the Jews had changed their Book, the Torah, killed their own prophets and disobeyed Allah. And the Jews did not want the Arabs to know about these shameful things."
New York City has 15 private Islamic schools. About 3,000 to 4,000 children attend the academies. Critics say the textbooks are planting the seeds of hatred.
Dr. Abidullah al-Ansari Ghazi, founder of a Chicago-based publishing firm called International Education Foundation, Inc., wrote some of the books in question and admitted that the rhetoric should be dropped.
Ghazi said he wrote the books 10 to 20 years ago and based the passages on sources from classical Islamic scholarship "which are much harsher than what I wrote here." Nevertheless, Ghazi said, "What you're pointing out, I agree, those passages need to be revised."
But another publisher, the Islamic Foundation of North America, stood by the books.
"Islam, like any belief system, believes its program is better than others," said Yahiya Emerick, head of the Foundation. "I don't feel embarrassed to say that."