Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
LONDON – A prestigious London university has been accused of having a banned
“terror preacher” on the editorial board of one of its department’s journals and
receiving funding from the Saudi royal family, according to a report published
by a British counter-extremism organization.
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Student Rights, a
London-based organization tackling extremism on campuses, said on Thursday that
the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)
received funding from the Saudi Arabian regime and Islamist preacher Yusuf
Qaradawi, the spiritual inspiration for Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, who is
banned from the UK, Israel and the US.
The information, obtained through
Freedom of Information requests by Student Rights, shows close ties between the
university and the Saudi Royal family, who have donated £755,000 to the school,
which is renowned for its Middle East program, between 2006 and 2010.
findings in the report led to a formal response from the Saudi Arabian
ambassador to the UK, Mohammed bin Nawaf Saud, who issued a statement on Friday
confirming the funding to SOAS.
“If Saudi money is questionable, then
following a change in British law we will willingly abide by this and change our
policy accordingly,” the ambassador said.
Student Rights says the funding
source runs counter to the university’s standpoint on freedom of expression and
discrimination, as well as the UN Declaration on Human Rights.
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was donated to fund the SOAS Journal of Qu’ranic Studies, which has Qaradawi on
its board, a preacher who supports suicide bombings against Israelis and has
endorsed the killing of pregnant Israeli women and unborn children.
is completely unacceptable for a university that prides itself on its support
for human rights and freedom to be effectively in bed with the Saudi Royal
Family,” said Raheem Kassam, director of Student Rights. “No stone must be left
unturned in a completely transparent, independent investigation to get to the
bottom of how this relationship emerged and why it was perceived as
In a statement, the university
maintained that Qaradawi only makes a small contribution to the
“Yusuf al-Qaradawi and some other editorial advisers from the
Middle East only advise on the Arabic section of the journal, and not on the
“His academic peers and Muslim scholars in the UK and
across the globe consider him to be one of the most outstanding scholars of the
Koran in the Arabic and Islamic world,” the university said.
in the report, which was coordinated with Conservative MP Robert Halfon, is the
university’s ties to former Lybian president Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.
2006, SOAS established links with the regime-controlled Al- Fateh University in
Halfon, who tabled an Early Day Motion [a formal motion
submitted for debate in the House of Commons] in Parliament in response to the
report, said: “I am deeply concerned at the findings of this report by Student
Rights. I will be writing to the vice chancellor of SOAS asking for an
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