Liberal Saudi journalist Turki Al-Hamad was interviewed on Al-Arabiya TV. The following are excerpts:
Al-Hamad: We must be wary even of official institutions, such as summer camps, Koran memorization schools and so on. All these are official institutions, but the question is what is happening inside them? I have recently tried to write a story about 9/11, and about the 15 Saudis who carried out this operation. When you study their biographies - where did they come from? They are graduates of official institutions, an official university, schools, official centers, and so on.
Interviewer: They are not rotten apples...
Al-Hamad: Of course not. That's why I say, pay attention to what's happening inside these summer camps, inside these universities, and colleges. What is happening inside them? You permit the activity of a college but you do not know how the professor teaches the students.
A politicized religious ideology is being indoctrinated into the students. There are those who accept it and join this movement and those who don't. Therefore, I am speaking of a phenomenon of politicizing the education and turning it into religious education. Dear brother?
Interviewer:But society wants religious education. Society is religious.
Al-Hamad: No, no, hold on for a second. When you make all the courses and the teaching materials part of religious education, and according to one specific interpretation, it is a very odd thing.
For instance, a teacher teaches geography and while teaching geography, he says, "But Imam so and so said such and such about this phenomenon, and therefore this is nonsense." What do you call this? He presents the information he has, the scientific material he is teaching, according to what he thinks is right from a religious perspective. This is a mistake, there is no place here for a personal opinion. If I tell you, "I think the sun does not exist," what would you say to me?
Interviewer: Does anyone claim that the sun doesn't exist?
Al-Hamad: There are those who claim that the sun revolves around the Earth. There are those who maintain to this day. Can you call this a personal opinion?
Interviewer And they teach geography at schools? Therefore, the modern generation claims that the sun revolves...
Al-Hamad:Let me tell you something. I spoke with a geography teacher at a Riyadh school. When he started talking about how the Earth is round and so on, one of the students said: "But Sheik Ibn Taymiyyah said so and so, and so and so said such and such." Brother, there is confusion. No methodology in the teaching process in order to teach the difference between opinion and reality or facts. When I say that the Earth is round and that it revolves around the sun, one of them says: "No, according to the opinion of Sheik So and so, I don?t agree with this. The Earth isn't round and doesn't revolve around the sun." What should we call this? If I tell him that this is a mistake, he replies, "but this is my opinion." On these issues there is no place for personal opinion, these are proven scientific facts.