2:55 PM EST

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-FL 18th

Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure to work with my good friend from California, Mr. Lantos.

Mr. Speaker, I have no further requests for time, and I yield back the balance of my time.

2:56 PM EST

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-FL 18th

Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and agree to the concurrent resolution (H. Con. Res. 275) expressing the sense of Congress regarding the education curriculum in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

2:57 PM EST

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-FL 18th

Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of House Concurrent Resolution 275, which expresses the sense of Congress regarding modifications in the education curriculum in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

It is unfortunate that some of the textbooks which are used in Saudi Arabian schools foster intolerance, ignorance and anti-Semitic, anti-American and anti-Western views. Extremism in [Page: H12187]

any form endangers the stability of the Middle East and undermines the efforts to create a conflict-free environment. There is an urgent need to promote moderate voices in the Islamic world as an effective way of fighting extremism.

Educational reform, with an emphasis on tolerance and respect for religious differences, can enhance the possibilities of harmony in this troubled region. Our children need to learn the concepts of peace and tolerance, not war and hatred.

The resolution recognizes the opportunity presented by the ascension of King Abdullah to the thrown in Saudi Arabia to call for education reform in his country.

It also establishes that progress on such reform is a priority for the United States and a factor to be considered when determining the level of our diplomatic engagements with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

It also urges the President to direct the Secretary of State to use the means at her disposal to assist the Saudis in such education reform.

Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support this important resolution. I congratulate my colleague from Florida.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of our time.

[Time: 15:00]

2:59 PM EST

Tom Lantos, D-CA 12th

Mr. LANTOS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume, and I rise in strong support of this resolution.

Mr. Speaker, first, I want to commend my good friend and distinguished colleague from Florida (Mr. Davis), a former member of the International Relations Committee, for introducing this most important measure relating to the curriculum in Saudi Arabia. We all appreciate his leadership on this important matter.

Mr. Speaker, as all of us as parents know, we have an enormous obligation not only to ensure that our children receive an education which will enable them to function in this century, but that their education include an important quotient of understanding other religions and other cultures, and an education that resists the temptation to demonize those that we do not understand.

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Saudi Arabia has singularly failed to accomplish this important task. The extremist Wahhabi religious education which is present in Saudi schools encourages and promotes extremism, viciously anti-American, anti-Western, and anti-Semitic attitudes. It fosters hatred and intolerance.

It is no surprise, Mr. Speaker, that 15 of the 19 hijackers on September 11 were Saudi nationals. The vile hatred filling the minds of so many young Saudis in schools makes them prime targets for terrorists and other extremist groups. I urge all my colleagues to support this important resolution.

Mr. Speaker, I yield such time as he may consume to the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Davis).