JAFFA, Israel – Dozens of Quranic verses have been removed from the Jordanian national curriculum, including those referencing jihad, prompting criticism from the Muslim Brotherhood and its representatives in Jordan.
Huda Alatoum, an educator and high-profile MP for the Muslim Brotherhood, said that “far-reaching changes” have been introduced in Jordan’s school program that remove verses and hadiths (oral traditions) “pertaining to Prophet Mohammed’s life.”
“About 40 percent of the curriculum about Arabic language and Islam have been changed, including the removal of all reference to jihad and opposing the occupation of Palestine,” she charged, adding that “325 verses and 75 Islamic texts have been removed.”
She concluded by warning that “even worse changes” are ahead.
Alatoum said she decided to hold a press conference after her protest efforts in parliament met with failure. In her addresses to the plenary, she repeatedly claimed that the amendments were decided without the approval of parliament’s Education Committee.
Al-Monitor reported on the curriculum changes:
A religious and political dispute continues to brew in Jordan over a controversial move by the Ministry of Education to revamp the curricula of the three elementary grades. According to Deputy Prime Minister Jawad Anani, the changes are part of the government’s strategy to combat extremism in society.
Changes to school textbooks introduced this year involve coverage of Islam, history, Arabic and civics. For example, in civics, reference is made to acknowledge Christians as a demographic component of the population with pictures of churches as well as mosques. In religion, entire verses from the Quran and sayings by the Prophet Muhammad have been removed, while in Arabic literature, a picture of a veiled woman was replaced with one showing an unveiled woman. In Arabic-language textbooks for the third grade, a Quranic verse was replaced by a text on swimming. No changes were made to books on the sciences, mathematics and art.
The issue of extremism in the school curricula and the reforms proposed are dividing the country. Conservatives, including the Muslim Brotherhood’s Islamic Action Front (IAF), which contested the Sept. 20 Lower House elections, have denounced the move “as an affront to our heritage and values aimed at distancing future generations from its religion, its Arab identity, its history and traditions.”
Alatoum’s campaign became a sensation on social media.
“That’s what the West wants, a generation that knows nothing about its religion except prayer and fasting,” Misbah tweeted. “They amend the curriculum pretending to root out extremism, but they introduce only corruption instead.”
هكذا يريد الغرب جيل جديد لا يعرف عن دينه سوى الصلاه والصوم فقط ينزعون المناهج بحجة مكافحة الفكر المُتطرف ويزرعون الفساد ليل نهار
— محمد مصباح (@M7M7K777) February 5, 2017
“Allah bless Huda Alatoum,” Ibrahim Altamimi tweeted after a speech she gave in December.
Mohammed Bilal called the new curriculum “American Islam,” saying, “Dr. Huda Alatoum, MP, talks about effectively teaching American Islam in her country. Allah forbid.”
الدكتورة هدى العتوم النائبة في البرلمان الأردني ، تحدثنا عن الإسلام الأمريكي في بلادها .
لا فض فوك . https://t.co/VcgZdtEE1O
— محمد البلال (@mohdgnibi) January 2, 2017
Another user protested “the Jordanian liberals’ attempt to change the curriculum.”
Jordan’s King Abdullah II visited the United States last week and met several officials from the new administration, including President Donald Trump.
The king’s visit came against a background of growing concerns that terrorist organizations, especially the Islamic State, will seek to settle along Jordan’s borders with Iraq and Syria following their retreats from Raqqa and Mosul.