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May 12, 2003

Muslim Clergymen Repudiate Schoolbooks' Bigoted Content

Two of New York's most prominent Muslim clerics have publicly spoken out against antisemitic content in Islamic textbooks used in local Muslim schools, after the issue was brought to their attention by a group of Jewish community leaders.

The textbooks, used in Muslim parochial schools in Brooklyn and Queens, contain claims that Jews "killed their own prophets" and that they "subscribe to a belief in racial superiority." The texts also claim that many Jews and Christians "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."

The books were the subject of a March 30 article in the New York Daily News.

The books' anti-Jewish and anti-Christian content was condemned in Friday sermons in mosques last month by two New York City clerics: Imam Omar Abu-Namus, who heads the Islamic Cultural Center on East 96th Street and another large mosque on East 55th Street, and Imam Feisal Abdul-Rauf, who heads the Al-Farah Mosque in Tribeca.

The condemnations followed an appeal to the clerics by Jewish members of a Muslim-Jewish dialogue group that was formed in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Among the group's members are ranking professionals within both communities' local organizational establishments, including staffers at New York's UJA-Federation and Jewish Community Relations Council.

The Daily News, which is owned by real estate magnate Mortimer Zuckerman, reviewed a half-dozen textbooks that it said are printed by two publishing companies in Chicago and New York and are distributed nationwide for use in Muslim parochial schools. One of the books, "What Islam Is All About," has sold more than 40,000 copies, one-tenth of them in New York, the newspaper reported.[more]