Qatari textbooks making slow progress on removing antisemitism - IMPACT-se

IMPACT-se noted that Qatari textbooks have shown slow but steady improvement by promoting more moderate messaging and adding lessons about tolerance and racism.

General overall view of the Doha downtown city center skyline and cityscape and the Doha Bay, Doha, Qatar, Sep 26, 2019. (photo credit: KIRBY LEE-USA TODAY SPORTS)
General overall view of the Doha downtown city center skyline and cityscape and the Doha Bay, Doha, Qatar, Sep 26, 2019.
(photo credit: KIRBY LEE-USA TODAY SPORTS)

Research and policy institution the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se) released its latest report on changes made to Qatari textbooks for the 2021-2022 school year, it said in a statement.

IMPACT-se's report in August 2020 regarding Qatari curricula, found multiple instances of antisemitism and other extremist content in textbooks.

The institute noted that Qatari textbooks have shown slow but steady improvement by promoting more moderate messaging and adding lessons about tolerance and racism.

IMPACT-se noted that the most significant change was the removal of a Social Studies textbook that promoted conspiracy theories such as that Jews control the world economy and caused the rise of Nazi Germany by manipulating the markets. 

Furthermore, content praising Hamas rocket attacks against Israeli civilians and teaching that Jews are treacherous, lack allegiance to any country and are to blame for Germany's defeat in World War I was removed from the curriculum.

 Buildings are seen from across the water in Doha, Qatar (credit: REUTERS) Buildings are seen from across the water in Doha, Qatar (credit: REUTERS)

A positive trend

"We are seeing a steady positive trend compared to our Qatar reports of the last two years, though the pace is slow."

IMPACT-se CEO Marcus Sheff

IMPACT-se added that some content that was hateful toward Christians, such as the notion that "Christianization" is a threat, was removed from the textbooks.

The institute also found that efforts had been made to reduce extremist content. For instance, a lesson glorifying the founder of Hamas, Ahmed Yassin, as a martyr and a symbol of the Palestinian struggle and a reference to a verse from the Qur'an describing violence against Jews and Christians were removed from the textbooks.

However, the institute noted, some problematic content remains in the curriculum, including demonization of Israel, rejection of Arab-Israeli normalization, violent interpretations of jihad, antisemitic content and content demonizing infidels.

Problematic content

"We are seeing a steady positive trend compared to our Qatar reports of the last two years, though the pace is slow," said IMPACT-se CEO Marcus Sheff. "The greatest degree of progress has been made in removing antisemitic content. However, much antisemitic material, of religious and nationalist nature, is retained. Textbooks largely continue to promote violent jihad as well as hate towards non-Muslims. Israel continues to receive disproportionate negative attention, but anti-Israel tone has been lowered."

"Ideally, the pace of change needs to be picked up, both in removing problematic materials and in the tougher job of creating peaceful and tolerant content, which the Qataris began to produce in 2021."