by John Burger via Aleteia.com
Government ministers in Egypt are taking steps to nip new generations of Islamic terrorism in the bud by making changes in primary and secondary school curricula, according to a report on the website of Voice of America.
The country’s Ministry of Education is removing some religious texts and passages on historical Islamic figures including Saladin, the 12th century Muslim ruler and anti-Crusader hero.
The changes, though, are provoking the ire of Egyptian Islamists.
Some who oppose the changes accuse the authorities of “an assault on our history” and of deleting the words of the Quran.
The plan seems to be in response to the call of Egyptian PresidentAbdel Fattah el-Sissi for a radical reform of Islam. The VOA article pointed out that the changes are:
He made that call amid rising violence against non-Muslims, especially the Islamic State group’s beheading of 21 Copts working in Libya earlier this year. Ashraf Ramelah, president of Voice of the Copts, told Aleteia that el-Sissi may be well-intentioned but still must overcome the hurdle of influencing the main Islamic religious authority in the country—Al-Azhar. The president, he said, “has not successfully influenced the Al Ahzar stronghold which consistently counters el-Sissi’s efforts to renew Islamic discourse. Publicly, Al-Azhar leaders are welcoming the president’s initiative, but in reality they are against any change.”
Ramelah is cautiously optimistic about the curriculum reform but points out that nothing is set in stone yet. He is also concerned that el-Sissi has not come to the public defense of Islam al-Beheiry, a Muslim scholar who is under a death fatwa because he spoke freely about inaccuracies in the hadiths of Islam. “Beheiry challenged traditions held by Al-Azhar scholars, and now his program is shut down along with a death fatwa issued against him. El-Sissi is silent.
The VOA article quoted Egypt expert Samuel Tadros of the Hudson Institute in saying, “Egypt’s current educational system is an incubator for extremism and radicalization.”
“Attempting to address the question of intolerance, radicalization, and extremism in the Egyptian educational system must begin by addressing the very structure of that system and not merely changing curricula,” Tadros said.