Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Textbooks Showing Israel instead of Palestine Stir Debate in Algeria | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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People browse books at a book stall in Petaling Jaya, outside Kuala Lumpur. (Samsul Said/Reuters photo)

Algiers-Calls for the resignation of Algerian Education Minister Nouria Benghabrit grew on Friday over a major mistake in a secondary school geography book which labelled a map of Palestine as Israel.

This mistake has led to growing resentment of Islamists and conservatives. Social media networks also witnessed severe reactions to the case, compelling the education ministry to withdraw the book and open an investigation into the “scandal.”

In its statement, the ministry said the books were recalled and the matter investigated with responsibility of the error blamed on the publisher, Arts Publishing House.

The minister urged the publisher to rectify the error and said that the original version of the book, which the ministry had adopted, did not include Israel on the world map, which means that the publisher alone should assume responsibility for the mistake.

The withdrawal of books means that tens of thousands of students should hand over their copies to their school administrations so that they return them to the printing press in order to replace the error with the right information.

Minister Benghabrit insisted that her ministry had nothing to do with the blunder. But Islamists and conservatives in the education sector already accuse her of “fighting the Arab and Islamic identity in school curricula” by preferring the French language.

An Islamic Renaissance Movement official, Youssef Khababeh, wrote on Facebook that the blunder is a crime punishable by law.

“The ministry abolished Palestine and replaced it with the Zionist entity in a school book,” he said.

The minister’s attempt to stir herself clear of the problem, is a “moral and political scandal,” said Khababeh.

Benghabrit has faced growing pressure to resign following a number of scandals during her term in office. Last May, the baccalaureate exam’s questions were leaked on social media.

She then claimed that her adversaries in the education sector had made a “plot” against her.

The minister accused them of rejecting the reform of schools and the development of curricula.