Saudi Arabia has changed its schoolbooks because a post-Sept. 11 survey revealed that a portion of their contents were hateful and possibly anti-American, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal tells 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl.
In an interview broadcast Sunday on 60 Minutes, Al-Faisal said that, after learning that 15 of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers were Saudis, he ordered a survey of textbooks to determine whether the hijackers' hatred for America was based in schooling. Eighty-five percent of what was being taught was not hateful, he said, but he was disturbed by the other 15 percent.
"Ten percent of what we found was questionable. Five percent was actually abhorrent to us, so we took a decision to change that and we have changed," al-Faisal told Stahl.
The Saudi government has allowed Muslim clerics to control education for many years and al-Faisal admitted he feared that the clerics may have been poisoning students with anti-American ideas. He told Stahl that the survey was meant to discover what the books contained that would "direct Saudi Arabians to be liable to be deluded by anybody who harbors enmity against the United States."
And he said, "I was expecting, frankly, the worst."
Saudi citizens that Stahl spoke to confirmed that a change had been made in the schools' curriculum, once dominated by religion.
"Religion used to be the subject," says Saudi businessman Hussein Shobokshi. "Now it is a subject. That is a major change, because we need good Muslims who happen to be doctors. We need good Muslims who happen to be economists. We don't need Muslims as a full-time job."