Back to Index

IRAQ: The teaching of history



Due to the confusion about what Iraqi history is approved, Iraqi teachers are reading the Ali Baba story. I asked:

"What moral do we learn from Ali Baba? Above all, we would like to know about the new history books to be used in Iraqi schools. Have they been prepared already, or is this a problem no one has thought about?" Ed Jajko replies; "I can't say anything about the moral to be found in Ali Baba, other than not to choose a large jar as a hiding place. Ali Baba, Aladdin, and some other familiar stories are independent of the Arabian Nights. As for learning about the new (or old) Iraqi textbooks, the matter is moot until the new ones are written and, for our purposes, until the sanctions regime is lifted. The Iraqi sanctions regime, maintained by the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the US Treasury Department (see www.ustreas.gov/ofac) is unique among the various sanctions regimes we have against Cuba, Burma, and other nations, in that it is total (with the exception of the Oil for Food Program), prohibiting even the import of Iraqi publications. US librarians remain unable to acquire books and serials from Iraq and face severe punishment for violations of the sanctions regime and relevant statutes".

RH: This seems to me incredibly stupid. There is the problem of conflicting versions of history in the textbooks of rival countries, but there is also the conflict between versions of history at different times. In The Crisis of Islam:Holy War and Unholy Terror, Bernard Lewis points out how Arab history has changed over the centuries- In the past the crusades were dismissed as a minor episode in the triumphant advance of Islam. In modern times they have been magnified into an example of Western imperialism, so much so that it is politically incorrect to use the word in the US. It is still permissible to use jihad.

Ronald Hilton - 5/10/03


Webmaster