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Non-Muslims Are Damned to Hellfire!

A report on tonight's Newsnight draws attention to certain Saudi Wahabi textbooks that are apparently used in the King Fahad Academy, a generally well-respected Islamic school in my manor of East Acton.

There were truly objectionable references to Jews and Christians as "pigs and monkeys" in the books, but I am not sure whether I can agree with objections to the contention in one of them that non-Muslims are condemned to hellfire.

I do not know enough about Islam to say whether or not it is an article of faith that infidels are condemned to hell, but if it is I cannot see how one can object to it being taught. When asked, Christian friends have told me that they fully believe that I am going to hell for all eternity (where presumably I will be exposed to rather a lot of fire) when I die; this based on the belief that I was a Catholic, by the way, not an aetheist.

Well, if that's what their faith tells them, that's what it tells them. Speculation on my eternal fate, as long as it breaks no law, is not the business of anyone - neither the BBC or OFSTED.

I can't see how this statement can be construed as incitement to racial hatred; incitement to religious contempt, or perhaps even pity, perhaps, but that is hardly worthy of 15 minutes of 'investigative journalism', or the intervention of the government.

Religious tolerance does not mean having to accept that all religious beliefs are equally valid; surely religious tolerance is about accepting that other people are entitled to hold whatever beliefs they choose, even if it is that infidels, gays, or heretics are destined to watch repeats of El Dorado on a loop for all eternity. (That does not, however, mean that people of faith should be entitled to discriminate on religious grounds; they can believe what they want, but should be required to treat everyone with equal respect.)

Essentially, this was a piece about an objectionable chapter on the teachings of an early Islamic scholar who compared Jews and Christians to "pigs and monkeys"; the director of the school maintains this chapter is not taught, and quite rightly in my view refused to promise to throw out the entire book because of the content of a chapter that is not even used as teaching material. Newsnight had to bring this other 'objectionable' section to make it worth their time doing a piece on it.

I am not of the opinion that it was licence fee-payers' money well-spent.