Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia

SAUDI ARABIA is part of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region .  MENA refers to those states immediately west of India, including the states on the Arabian Peninsula, and the northernmost states in Africa. These states are grouped together because of their predominantly Muslim populations. The intention of this grouping is not to reify Muslim “difference” or to “orientalize” the region. Though there are clearly ethnic differences among the peoples of such a far-flung set of countries—the disparate ethnicities here include, for instance, Berbers, Arabs, Persians, and Afghans—relations between Muslims and Jews in the region have been exacerbated by the Arab-Israeli conflict. The conflict is the overriding prism through which most political leaders and at least a large portion of the citizenry view the Holocaust, if they have knowledge of it.

In 2006 in SAUDI ARABIA, cleric Sa’d Al-Breik defended Roger Garaudy and argued in an interview on Saudi television that in the West, “freedom does not extend to anyone who mentions one good thing about Hitler.”  In 2011, following a visit to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Saudi-born liberal journalist Mansour Al-Hadj reflected on the state sanctioning of Holocaust denial in the public schools. read more

As a child in the Saudi Arab kingdom, I often heard about the Holocaust that befell the Jews at the hands of the Nazi regime in Germany during World War II. However, most of what I heard was that the Jews exaggerated the number of victims, that they used the Holocaust to arouse the world’s pity, and that they indisputably deserved their fate. I never learned that the Holocaust was among the most atrocious crimes in human history, and I did not read that persecuting [the Jews] based on their religion is considered racial discrimination. I did not feel any empathy toward the victims of the Holocaust, despite the atrocious things that happened to them, only because they were Jews. The word [‘Jew’] was associated in my mind with negative qualities like deceit, enmity, miserliness, and going back on one’s word.

Al-Hadj noted in the same piece that the Saudi government also exports to other Arab states educational curricula that either denies or minimizes the Holocaust.


GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES ON HOLOCAUST EDUCATION: Trends, Patterns, and Practices,  a publication of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and  the Salzburg Global Seminar, 2013
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UNESCO:  Why Teach About the Holocaust?, 2013

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