Here's a little puzzle for readers. Can you work out which Arab country the the writer is talking about in the passage below? Its school textbooks for 14-15 year-olds say that pagans should be killed if they don't convert to Islam:
"It is tucked away in the ninth grade [textbook] under the subtitle, 'Islam Fights Paganism and Atheism'.
"It explains that 'pagans are those who worship something other than God, and atheists are those who deny the existence of God'. Islam must fight these two belief systems because they 'are an assault to both instinct and truth'.
"We are told that these belief systems 'contradict the principle of freedom of belief'. This is because 'Islam gives freedom of belief only within the limits of the divine path,' which 'means a religion descended from heaven'.
"Because pagan religions were not revealed by God, they are considered an 'inferior' form of belief that reflects an 'animal consciousness'. How should Muslims deal with these peoples who comprise half of humanity? Students are instructed that 'Islam accepts only two choices for Pagans: that they convert to Islam or be killed'."
Posted by Brian Whitaker
Wednesday, 3 December 2014