- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 30, 2007

1:20 p.m.

BRUSSELS — The Iranian education system is preparing its students for a global war against the West in the name of Islam, according to an independent study of 115 textbooks and teachers guides released today.

With Tehran accused of seeking to develop a nuclear weapons arsenal and the United States dispatching a second aircraft carrier to the Gulf, the report by the Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace highlights the uphill task Washington faces trying to persuade Iranian youth to distance themselves from the hard-line Islamist regime.

The study, which claims to be the first of its kind, catalogs how pupils as young as 9 are conditioned to take part in a global jihad against such “infidel oppressors” as Israel and the United States.

“Hate indoctrination is a professed goal of Iranian textbooks,” said the report’s author, Arnon Groiss, a Princeton- and Harvard-educated journalist who also has written critical studies of the Israeli, Palestinian, Syrian, Saudi and Egyptian education systems.

According to Mr. Groiss, Iranian pupils learn from an early age that the Islamic republic is in mortal combat with Western powers bent on its destruction.

One 11th-grade textbook, quoting former spiritual leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, refers to the United States and its allies as “the World Devourers” and says that if they “wish to stand against our religion, we will stand against their whole world and will not cease until the annihilation of all of them.”

Students are drilled for battle from age 12, when they are obliged to take defense-readiness classes, according to the study by the Israel-based nongovernmental organization. Some also are drafted into the Revolutionary Guard and other elite combat units, where they are taught how to handle shoulder-propelled rocket launchers, the study says.

Through stories, poems, wills and exercises, martyrdom is glorified as a means of defending the Islamic republic and attaining eternal happiness, the report says. A Grade 10 textbook on “defense readiness” boasts that during the eight-year war with Iraq in the 1980s, half a million students were sent to the front and “36,000 martyrs … were offered to the Islamic Revolution.”

Describing Iran’s school system as a “global war curriculum,” Mr. Groiss said the emphasis on military training from such a young age instilled a “siege mentality” among many students.

“It is a form of child abuse to install such notions in children’s minds,” he told journalists at a briefing in the European Parliament in Brussels.

Israel, which Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad repeatedly has said should be “wiped off the map,” is not recognized in atlases and is portrayed as a danger to Islamic states.

“Another problem [faced by Muslim countries] is the regime that occupies Jerusalem, which has been created in this area … for America and other aggressive powers, with the aim of taking over the Muslim lands,” says a geography textbook for Grade 11 students that is quoted in the study.

Anti-Semitism is also rife, according to the report, which analyzed textbooks published before Mr. Ahmadinejad came to power in 2005. In one cartoon for third-graders, the inhabitants of a clean and tidy town discover a trail of garbage left by a ghoulish creature with the Star of David on his right arm. The contaminator is chased out of town and the mess cleaned up after him.

The United States, which is commonly referred to as the “Great Satan” and the “Arch-Oppressor Worldwide,” fares little better.

“America is known as an imperialist country, which embarks on military intervention wherever it sees that its interests are in danger,” says a sociology textbook for Grade 11 students, according to the study.

“It does not refrain from massacring people, from burying alive the soldiers of the opposite side and from using mass destruction weapons.”

Speaking at the release of the report today, the vice chairman of the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee, Geoffrey Van Orden, said: “Young people are being indoctrinated in hatred and intolerance to other religions and cultures. This is not only very disturbing in terms of the education and upbringing of those young people, but in terms of international stability.”

The Iranian Embassy in Brussels was asked to respond to the claims in the report but failed to comment.

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