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Saudi Arabia purges university books containing 'Muslim Brotherhood ideologies'

Saudi Arabia follows the strict interpretation of Islam under Wahhabism and Salafism [Getty]

Date of publication: 7 October, 2019

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Saudi's ministry of education says it has destroyed academic literature containing 'Muslim Brotherhood ideas' which it claimed harmed the education in the kingdom.
The Saudi government announced on Sunday it has destroyed university materials linked to teachings on Muslim Brotherhood, according to a statement by the Minister of Education Hamad al-Sheikh. 

"The Muslim Brotherhood harmed education in the kingdom, and universities have had to undergo a significant reform process following years of failed attempts," Sheikh told semi-official Okaz.

"There was an obvious dominance of certain ideas within the education system, which harmed the system, and these included ideas from the Muslim Brotherhood," he said. "The state has now intervened to protect our students from these misguided and deviant ideas.

"Saudi universities have undergone major reforms that include changes to curriculum and the removal of materials on extremists' ideologies, which became popular in the 1960s," he added.

Sheikh's comments provoked widespread condemnation among rights activists and social media users, who stressed on the dangers of destroying books and controlling intellectual thought. 

"All university libraries around the world hold onto books, magazines and newspapers, while you destroy books! The development of thought does not come through the destruction of books, but through encouraging intellectual thinking," one Twitter user said.

"I think the next official statement to be released by the government will announce the elimination of every person who had an idea 40 years ago," another Twitter user joked.

"A more important move would have been to eliminate unemployment and create jobs within government agencies for graduates," another Twitter user highlighted.

Saudi Arabia follows the strict interpretation of Islam under Wahhabism and Salafism, which the government has been actively funding and promoting globally.

Salafism in the region has been growing more popular for decades and appears to have adherents well into the millions. 

It has multiple branches, varying from jihadi Salafism (its adherents advocate violence) all the way to Taqlidi (scholarly and educational) Salafism.

However, the move is part of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's loosening of the kingdom's strict laws as he attempts to portray the country as open to the world.

Under his leadership, the kingdom has undertaken an ambitious programme of economic reform in a bid to remedy its dependency on oil revenues and has opened up the kingdom's gates to tourism and entertainment.

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