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Korans with Offensive Commentary Will Stay out of Los Angeles Schools

February 13, 2002
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A controversy over anti-Semitic references in a translation of the Koran sent to Los Angeles public schools has been resolved to the apparent satisfaction of both Jewish and Muslim representatives.

At a meeting Monday, called by the Los Angeles Unified School District, participants agreed to permanently withdraw “The Meaning of the Holy Quran” from school libraries and to appoint a committee to review future books explaining different religious faiths.

The book that triggered the flap, a 1934 translation of the Koran with footnotes and commentaries, describes Jews at various points as “illiterate,” “arrogant” and “men without faith.”

Some 300 copies were been donated last month to the school district by the Omar Ibn Khattab Foundation. They were distributed, without the customary content review, to middle and high schools.

The donation was designed to promote religious understanding following the Sept. 11 terror attacks

After a history teacher complained about the anti-Semitic references, the book was withdrawn from school libraries last week.

Dafer Dakhil, head of the Islamic foundation, apologized for the anti-Jewish commentaries at the closed-door meeting and agreed to the book’s withdrawal, according to one participant, Michael Hirschfeld, executive director of the Jewish Federation’s Jewish Community Relations Committee.

“We had a very cordial meeting and there was general agreement that the Omar Ibn Khattab Foundation had donated the Koran translations without any malicious intent,” Hirschfeld said in a phone interview.

Also participating in the meeting was Marjorie Green, Western states education director for the Anti-Defamation League.

On the Muslim side, representatives included Salam Al-Marayati and Maher Hathout, two leading spokesmen of their community.

The cordiality of the meeting was taken as a sign of reduced friction between Southern California’s large Jewish and Muslim communities, which had been on the rise over the past year.

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