SEVEN ATTEMPTS BY U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-10) to have the U.S. State Department initiate an investigation into controversial textbooks used at two Islamic schools in Northern Virginia have gone unanswered. In his seventh letter in less than a year to the department, Wolf calls continued inaction on the part of the department "inexcusable."
The Islamic Saudi Academy, or ISA, has close ties with the government of Saudi Arabia, which Wolf says charges the State Department with overseeing any investigation of it, under the Foreign Missions Act of 1982.
"The Saudi ambassador is the head of the school," said Wolf.
ISA has two campuses. One in Alexandria on Richmond Highway, and another in Fairfax on Pope's Head Road. Material in some textbooks used at both campuses has been called "intolerant" and "shocking" by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, and by Ali Al-Ahmed, director of the The Institute for Gulf Affairs, a nonpartisan Washington, D.C., think tank.
According to Al-Ahmed, one example is a 10th-grade work that "indulges in anti-Semitic conspiracy theories." Wolf said, "Textbooks used in Saudi Arabia are very anti-Semitic, anti-Christian and pretty hate-filled." While some textbook material has reportedly been changed due to pressure from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, Wolf says an independent investigation of the textbooks and their overarching use at the academy has yet to be initiated.
"We're just asking that there be an independent evaluation by someone that's not paid by the Saudi Academy," Wolf said.
In a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on March 12, Wolf wrote: "According to AP, 'while the Islamic Saudi Academy deleted some of the most contentious passages from the texts, copies provided to the Associated Press show that enough sensitive material remains to fuel critics who claim the books show intolerance toward those who do not follow strict interpretations of Islam.'"The 10th District, stretching from McLean to Winchester, is home to some of the world’s leading Internet and high-tech companies, thousands of federal employees and other professionals.
Agriculture and manufacturing also are an important part of the 10th District’s economy. Clarke and Frederick counties in the western end of the District produce about half of Virginia’s apples and peaches; Henkel-Harris furniture and Rubbermaid have large manufacturing plants in the District.
Tourism is important, too. Civil War battlefields, including Manassas National Battlefield Park, dot the 10th District. The Shenandoah Valley Battlefields National Historic District includes Fisher's Hill/Cedar Creek; Cross Keys/Port Republic; Second Winchester; Third Winchester/Opequon, and New Market. One of the nation’s newest national parks is also in the 10th District. Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Park, established in 2002, will serve as a model for future parks because private landowners and organizations will continue to live, work and operate within the park's borders. Other major tourism draws are Skyline Drive in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Shenandoah River, and the Appalachian Trail.