NEW REPORT – Understanding Qatari Ambition: The Curriculum 2016-20

By David B. Roberts, Eldad J. Pardo, Series Editor David M. Byer

One of the UK’s closest ‘allies’ in the Middle East, Qatar, is teaching its children to be anti-Semitic, according to a new report.


The report, published by the Henry Jackson Society and IMPACT-se, and Israeli counter-extremism think tank focuses on Qatar’s school curriculum for grades 1–12. It provides an assessment by measuring Qatari textbooks against international standards based on UNESCO, UN declarations and other recommendations and documents relating to education for peace and tolerance.

The review determined that the Qatari curriculum does not yet meet international standards. While the curriculum somewhat less radical than previous versions, the process of moderation is in its infancy. Practically no substantive changes have been made since the 2019-2020 curriculum compared to previous reports on the curriculum.

Hamas, recognized as a terrorist organization by the US and EU, is described to children as a legitimate “Islamic resistance” movement which seeks to “oppose the Zionist project.”


Hamas firing thousands of rockets into civilian populations forcing “Zionist citizens to enter the shelters” and stopping “airplane traffic to and from Israel” is glorified and described as “brave” and “remarkable.” Suicide bombings and terrorist acts by Palestinians in the Second Intifada which targeted Israeli civilians are portrayed as a legitimate response to ongoing Israeli oppression, describing terror acts as “armed operations” or “military operations.”

Most troubling is the realization that the leaders of Qatar have, for years, allowed their children to be exposed to one of the most radical jihadi educations in the world.


The British and Qatari militaries are closely intertwined with British and Qatari officers serving in embedded capacities in each other’s respective militaries.  Qatari officers also train at Sandhurst and the UK has provided the state military equipment and training.

Despite the hyper-controlled nature of Qatari policymaking and its relative insulation from local pressures, no leader – however autocratic – is entirely unmoored from public opinion. And a local population raised on an educational curriculum of this nature is sure to be well disposed to its state engaging and supporting Islamist-oriented causes broadly conceived.”


In the words of Dr Alan Mendoza, Executive Director of the Henry Jackson Society:

“While we may share military interests with Qatar, it is clear that on all too many issues we do not share values of tolerance and respect. Teaching children anti-Semitic tropes and hate is unacceptable no matter who is doing it.

Our American allies have taken up Qatar’s anti-Semitic curriculum with the Qatari government. The British Government must now do the same.”



Key findings

  • Antisemitism is central to the curriculum. Students are taught that Jews played a large role in Germany’s defeat and downfall during the First World War. Jews are to blame for the rise of the Nazi Party by manipulating financial markets and creating wealth for themselves. They are personified as having global control. Jews tried to kill Jesus and killed other prophets, are warmongers and inherently treacherous and betrayers. The Holocaust is ignored.
  • Pan-Islamic and pan-Arab nationalism are evident as are elements of the Wahhabist creed of Salafism and the Muslim Brotherhood, which dominate the religious tenor of the curriculum. A Muslim Brotherhood approach to the behavior of Muslims in non-Muslim countries is taught.
  • Prosperity is tightly linked to cultural and scientific interaction with the world. However, Qatar’s involvement in world affairs includes the global spread of political Islam.
  • Qatari education is heavily influenced by Western educators, but serious issues exist regarding peace and tolerance. In Islamic religious studies there is very little improvement. Jihad war, martyrdom and violent jihadi movements are praised. English language textbooks are the most moderate.
  • Women are encouraged to be brave, serve their homeland and families, and have many children. Despite female “empowerment,” careers are not a priority.
  • Christians are characterized as “People of the Book,” but blamed for causing divisions among Muslims; most of them are considered immoral and infidels. While describing the challenges facing Muslim minorities, Christianization is portrayed as a major threat, described as a “political and colonial movement.” Some anti-Christian material has been removed.
  • Israel remains illegitimate, often labeled the Zionist Entity. There are references to diplomatic solutions but violence is glorified, including Hamas rocket attacks.
  • Normalization between Israel and Arab nations is rejected.
  • The curriculum does not teach the history of minorities in the region or their cultural affinity. The demise of Jewish communities in the Arab world is ignored.
  • Democracy and political participation are praised within the curriculum. Students are taught to have tolerance toward the expatriate community, in contrast to the often- appalling treatment of immigrant workers throughout Qatar.
  • The US, Britain, Turkey, Iran, China and Oman are considered friendly actors.

Further detail:

Jews control global politics and finance

  • Jews control the global economy.
  • Jews exploited the post-First World War economic crisis and used their control of the global economy to affect Britain’s foreign policy for their own self-interest.
  • Jews are to blame for the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany. They manipulated financial markets after the First World War that led to the creation of a poor economy while achieving great wealth for themselves.
  • The First World War benefited the Zionist movement. “Capitalist-Jewish support” helped achieve the movement’s Zionist ambitions. Britain sent the Balfour Declaration to “one of the rich Jewish leaders in Britain.” The British wanted “Jewish financial and political support.”
  • Harry Truman was elected president “with Jewish support” subsequent to his attendance at a “Zionist conference.”
  • Jews are hedonistic and believe they are superior. Judaism is equated to Paganism.
  • In an explanation of the history of Palestine, the text explains that in order to gain US support to establish the Jewish state, Jews “infiltrated the decision-making centres, such as the American Congress, using their active propaganda and vast influence in the USA.”

Jews killed Jesus, have bad morals and are corrupt

  • In a chapter about Jesus’ life, Jews are portrayed as sinners who practice polytheism, ignored his preaching, and conspired to kill him.
  • While teaching about the Prophet Dawud (biblical David), the text reports that Jews are evil and have bad morals. They commit sins and even act against David and other Prophets, sometimes killing them.
  • A chapter about Judaism and Christianity presents a detailed theological criticism of Jews for inserting changes in their religion that corrupted it, such as the belief that they are rewarded or punished in this world. The text accuses them of trying kill Jesus.
  • Students are encouraged to avoid any resemblance to the Jews.

Jews are disloyal, war mongers, inherently treacherous and betrayers

  • Jews today are presented as disloyal. Under the “applicable lessons” from a chapter about the 7th century battle over Medina, it declares: “Treachery and treason are among the traits of the Jews.”
  • Jews are presented as hostile enemies who seek to end Islam and to kill Muhammad “to bring the Muslims’ downfall and the end of Islam” in a chapter about Muhammad’s covenant with the Jewish tribes in Medina. There is no attempt made to contextualize or mitigate this with reference to Jews in modern times.
  • A chapter about the historical Battle of Khaybar describes Jews in detail as treacherous haters of Islam and Allah and as a threat to Muslims; they are weak cowards who prefer to hide in their fortresses rather than fight, and for this reason the text states that Muhammad ordered punishment upon the Jews for betraying the Muslims.
  • Students are asked to appreciate the killing of a Jew – women’s bravery during the historical Battle of the Trench is taught through an example of Muhammad’s aunt who killed a Jew.
  • Jews prefer falsity over truth, were punished by Allah for deviation, rejected Jesus, and are likened to infidels and polytheists, who are “wicked sinners.”


Jihad and Martyrdom

  • Martyrdom and Jihad are taught through the role model of Izz ad-Din al-Qassam, founder of the Jihadi movement and after whom the Hamas military wing is named. He is glorified as a symbol of determination and courage. His death “ignited the ember of Jihad” and “kindled the spirit of self-sacrifice.”
  • Palestinian women are described as role models for all Arab women in the context of violence and struggle against Israel for their willingness to sacrifice their lives for the motherland.
  • A woman’s fundamental role is to raise children and teach them to love Jihad.
  • Students are told that Jihad is the climax of Islam and “the highest and most paramount of the qualities of religion.”
  • Waging war and sacrificing their lives and property in the name of Jihad will abolish all sins and grant happiness in the Afterlife.
  • Participation in fighting, with permission of the ruler, is “the highest type of Jihad.”
  • Jews are criticized for relying on this world and for not wishing for death in a section that both attacks Jews and teaches students that Islam encourages its believers to prefer death to life.
  • Islamic figure Ali bin Abi Talib is glorified for killing polytheists and Jews. The “usable lesson” is self-sacrifice for the sake of defending religion.
  • Students are taught to do what is necessary in order for Islam to emerge victorious, including Jihad and combat.
  • Eighth graders learn that Allah loves Jihad warriors who fight for his sake.
  • They are taught that Allah will reward men and women who fought and died for Islam and will enter them into Paradise.
  • Jihad’s “sublime purpose” is stated as the conversion of non-believers to Islam, used to justify Islamic violent conquest.
  • In teaching about the Kashmiri Jihad movement, the textbook explains that “the Jihadi warriors were able to kill more than 26,000 Indian soldiers.”


Europe, Muslims and the West

  • Textbooks negatively portray the policies of European governments towards Muslim minorities in Europe accusing them of forcefully integrating them and “dissolving” them in European society. Students are taught that Muslim minorities in Europe are persecuted and suffer from racism, violence, and from religious restrictions, such as the banning of hijabs and building of mosques.
  • Muslims face “pressure” to assimilate ever since 9/11, and, in particular, Muslim minorities in non-Islamic countries “to assess their degree of willingness, or to force them, to accept peaceful coexistence and to integrate.”
  • Christianization is presented as a major threat, describing it as a “political and colonial movement.” It is conceded, however, that this phenomenon is somewhat limited to Africa.
  • Though European governments, including Britain, Germany, Belgium and Austria, are praised for assuming moderate stances toward Muslim minorities, they are accused of trying to encourage Muslims to assimilate into their societies.
  • Rich and powerful Muslims should use their privilege to intervene on behalf of Islamic minorities in non-Muslim countries. They should spread the faith by helping minorities receive Islamic education in Muslim countries, form ties with organizations representing Muslim communities, and send “the most suitable individuals” to “raise the awareness of minority Muslims.”
  • Students are taught that the reason for the European forceful assimilation is that Muslims will form 20 percent of European population by the middle of the century.
  • Financing Islamic education and institutions in the West and setting up independent media sources to monitor and confront persecution of Muslim minorities is covered in the curriculum.
  • Twelfth graders are taught about Qatar’s international investment, including the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), which has been linked to controversies such as funding terrorist activity like the Harrods boycott and the Qatar Islamic Bank. The section presents a long list of non-Qatari companies and organizations that the QIA is involved with.
  • A history textbook points to the Muslim Brotherhood thinker, Yusuf Qaradawi, as making conversion more attractive in the West. The textbook does not advocate for the conversion of non-Muslims although da’wa (call to Islam) is the mainstay of Qaradawi’s legal theory.


The Gulf Crisis and blockade

  • Criticism of the Arab siege countries is restrained, leaving open avenues for dialogue. The siege of Qatar—now resolved—was dealt with in a relatively positive manner, allowing Qatari leaders to display magnanimity toward their rivals.
  • The blockade is viewed by Qatar as an opportunity to bolster the country’s national identity. The textbooks treat the blockade as a blessing in disguise, focusing on the effective and beneficial counter-measures taken by Qatar.
  • The school textbooks challenge the legality of the siege, do not relate directly to accusations about supporting terrorist organizations, but still call the blockading countries “sister states” and their complete names are mentioned respectfully.
  • Blockading countries are mostly excluded from the textbooks. Regional countries that are not members of the siege coalition such as Oman, Turkey and the Palestinians receive more attention, mostly friendly.
  • The textbooks teach that statements attributed to the Emir of Qatar are false and were caused by the hacking of the Qatar News Agency (QNA) by the four blockading Arab states.


Turkey and Iran

  • Qatar’s relationship with Turkey in the textbooks is positive. (Turkey has been an especially close ally of Qatar and helpful supporter during the blockade, as a partner in various other fronts from Gaza to Libya. Both nations are committed to the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood).
  • The Golden Age of the Ottoman Empire is described with much admiration. The establishment of a caliphate and Islamic wars to conquer more lands are lauded. The Sultans’ talents are described in detail.
  • The glory of Jihad is bolstered in examples from the period of Ottoman rule.
  • The attitude toward Iran is largely positive. The curriculum points to cultural and economic considerations, past and present.
  • There is no anti-Shiite material, perhaps in deference to the large Shiite population and the current close relations with Iran.
  • Persian art and culture are recognized. Altogether, the Abbasid state established a thriving Islamic civilization, despite the diversity of society.
  • Regardless, in a map Iran is not mentioned, and the Gulf is called the “Arab Gulf.” Not the Persian Gulf.


Hate of Infidels

  • Christianity is said to be intolerant compared to Islam, using the example of how Ferdinand and Isabella drove Islam out of Spain, and how Louis XIV made Protestantism subject to punishment in France. Qatari students are asked to discuss how Islam treats minorities compared to the treatment of Muslims in non-Islamic countries.
  • Students are repeatedly taught, throughout all grades, that (wicked) infidels (Christians, Jews, and polytheists) will be punished on the Day of Resurrection with eternity in Hell. Other punishments for the infidels are grief, humiliation, and the failing of their deeds.
  • Christianity and Judaism become corrupted religions that included themes of polytheism.
  • Students are taught that Allah wants believers to hate infidels, since they anger Him.
  • The People of the Book (Christians and Jews) are chastised for going against Allah’s word and are seen as deserving of a great punishment.
  • An Arabic language exercise selectively chooses a Qur’anic verse that discusses measures of extreme violence towards Jews and Christians to teach grammar.
  • A text forbids sympathizing with infidels and polytheists, promising doubled punishment both in life and in death.
  • Polytheists are seen as evil and as committing the greatest sin imaginable, leading them to hell. They are frequently portrayed as liars and immoral people who commit obscenities and atrocities.


Israel, Zionism and the Palestinian conflict

  • Normalization and peace-making between Israel and Arab nations is rejected.
  • Hamas firing thousands of rockets into civilian populations forcing “Zionist citizens to enter the shelters” and stopping “airplane traffic to and from Israel” is glorified and described as “brave” and “remarkable”.
  • Suicide bombings and terrorist acts by Palestinians in the Second Intifada targeting Israeli civilians are portrayed as a natural reaction to ongoing Israeli oppression describing terror acts as “armed operations” or “military operations.”
  • Israel seeks to completely “eliminate” the Palestinian people.
  • Jews do not have the characteristics of a nation, share any connection to each other, nor do they have a shared history, a cultural heritage, or shared customs and traditions.
  • Cities in Israel proper such as Tel-Aviv are presented as being located in “Occupied Palestine” in maps outlining borders following the wars in 1948 and 1967.
  • Students are taught that Islam demands the armed liberation of the entire territory of the “Occupation State” (Israel) after “the Zionists completed the occupation of Palestine in 1967.”
  • The ancestry and Jewish identity of today’s Jews is questioned. It is determined that not all are descendants of the ancient Children of Israel, but instead are descendants Jews who “blended.”
  • Hamas, recognized as a terrorist organization by the US and EU, is described as legitimate “Islamic resistance” movement which seeks to “oppose the Zionist project.”
  • A new textbook covers the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians but glorifies violence.
  • The protection of Palestine and helping the Palestinian struggle is presented as a religious duty to all Muslims.
  • Zionists (Israel) deliberately destroy Muslim and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem in an effort to Judaize the city and disconnect it from Islam and Christianity.
  • Students are taught that Zionists have ambitions to expand Israel to take over Arab lands as an explanation of cause of the 1967 war.
  • The antisemitic myths of the “intentional torching of the Al-Aqsa Mosque by the Occupation’s authorities” in 1969 and digging under the Al-Aqsa Mosque are repeated.
  • Jews are not indigenous to the land and rather came after the true indigenous people, and thus have no real right to the land.
  • Eastern European Ashkenazi Jews are descendants of the Khazars.
  • Jews settled in Palestine and “set up terrorist gangs” to deliberately kill Palestinians.
  • Students are taught that Israel and Jews demonically attempt to Judaize Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa in a poem that encourages the Arab nation to “lend their cannons” to the Palestinians in their struggle.
  • The Zionist movement is “a hostile political movement that is founded on settler, racist, and colonial principles, and that is based on false historical and religious claims.”
  • There are, however, some positive newly added examples that stress the complexities of the conflict. For instance, students are taught about the Israeli acceptance of the 1947 partition plan and the needless Arab blockade of the Tiran Straits in 1967.




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