In an unprecedented move, the Egyptian parliament recently commended the Ministry of Education on approving a new school subject: religious values and verses that have the same meaning in the three Abrahamic religions - Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Al-Monitor reported.
The decision will allow Egyptian students to study verses from the Jewish religion for the first time ever.
“The Ministry of Education’s approval of the subject of religious values shared between the divine religions expresses the state’s keenness to spread the values of tolerance and fraternity,” declared Kamal Amer, head of parliamentary defense and the National Security Committee in the Egyptian Parliament.
The three religions “include common values that students must study to be able to confront the extremist and takfirist [apostasy defying] ideas that backward groups are working on to spread in society,” Amer continued.
“President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is keen to teach youth the values of respect for others, tolerance and rejection of fanaticism and extremism," he said. "This is why the Ministry of Education decided to teach the subject of common values in schools.”
On February 14, the ministry approved the parliament’s proposal on the subject of common values between all the Abrahamic religions and the principles of tolerance, citizenship and coexistence.
"Due to its importance, the subject will be factored into students' GPAs, even though religious classes are usually not counted," Deputy Minister of Education Reda Hegazy said during the meeting, Al-Monitor reported.
Farid el-Bayadi, a member of the Defense and National Security Committee and author of the proposal, told Al-Monitor that “The decision to teach this subject in schools will play an important role in spreading principles and values that stand against extremism and hatred.” He also called for the removal of Islamic religious texts from a number of subjects such as Arabic.
“Teaching religious texts through subjects unrelated to religion leads teachers to interpret such texts in extremist and subversive ways," he said, adding that "studies have established a link between this issue and the spread of extremist ideas."