McGill University ends research with antisemitic Iranian university

Tehran University is a sponsor of genocidal antisemitism targeting Israel and one of its law professors defended the regime's fatwa to murder Salman Rushdie.

The arts building of McGill University in Montreal, Québec. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
The arts building of McGill University in Montreal, Québec.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The Montreal-based McGill University pulled the plug on its research program with one of the world’s leading antisemitic institutions, Tehran University, The Jerusalem Post can first reveal.

“Currently, there is no active research program associated with the Tehran Branch and McGill has no formal partnership agreement with the University of Tehran,” the McGill University Media Relations Office wrote the Post by Email on Wednesday.

Tehran University is a sponsor of genocidal antisemitism targeting Israel and one of its law professors defended the regime's fatwa to murder Salman Rushdie. Iran's regime imprisoned McGill alumnus Niloufar Bayani, a wildlife conservationist,  over five years based on trumped-up spying charges, according to Amnesty International.

"No place for Zionist regime"

The Iranian regime cleric Hojjatoleslam Mohammad Javad Haj Ali Akbari declared on Al-Quds Day in 2022 on the campus of Tehran University that “There won’t be any place for the Zionist regime in the world future.”

 Tehran University of Medical Sciences (credit: Wikimedia Commons) Tehran University of Medical Sciences (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Al-Quds Day is an annual regime-sponsored event across Iran that calls for the destruction of the Jewish state.

The Tehran University professor, Mohammad Sadegh Koushki, endorsed the assassination of Rushdie in August 2022, following the pro-Iranian regime suspects Hadi Matar’s attempt to kill Rushdie in upstate New York.

The founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, authorized the fatwa to murder Rushdie in 1988 because he said his book, “The Satanic Verses,” denigrated Islam.

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) translated an Iranian television interview with Koushki, who defended the fatwa to kill Rushdie, noting that Khomenei “had the wisdom to issue this verdict back then, so that such a thing would never repeat itself.”  Koushki also said that Rushdie was a “dead man walking.”

On McGill University’s Institute of Islamic Studies webpage, there is a section devoted to its “Tehran Branch.” The entry of the text is dated April 3, 2013. “Originally founded by McGill, the Tehran Branch faced a period of financial uncertainty before securing a suitable location and a yearly allocation from the University of Tehran… McGill’s Institute of Islamic Studies is proud of its 44-year association with the Tehran Branch and its scholarly activities, “ states the Tehran Branch webpage.

The Post had sent numerous press queries to McGill University and its Institute of Islamic Studies since late February 2022 in an effort to secure transparency about relations between McGill and Tehran University. Both McGill and the Institute of Islamic Studies refused over a 13-month period to answer media queries. McGill also declined to provide a reason for why the research program with Tehran University is inactive.

During the period of McGill’s partnership with Tehran University, the Iranian regime-controlled academic institution promoted the obliteration of Israel. The International Quran News Agency reported about a 2008 conference at Tehran University titled, “The Rise of Islam, Destruction of Israel.”

McGill added in its Wednesday statement to the Post that “The Tehran Branch of the Institute of Islamic Studies at McGill was established more than fifty years ago. It has focused on scholarly activity with an emphasis on the recovery and study of historic Persian texts and has supported a collection of reference materials, including some of the most important books and manuscripts of different Islamic Sciences.”

McGill University and its Institute of Islamic Studies refused to answer multiple follow up queries as to when its partnership with Tehran University became inactive. In March, the author of this article and Dr. Charles Asher Small, executive director of the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy (ISGAP), published an article in the Canadian broadsheet, the National Post, titled “McGill University's deep ties with Iran's murderous regime.” It is unclear if the March National Post article played a role in McGill’s announcement that it has severed relations with Tehran University.

Tehran University has a long history of promoting lethal antisemitism and working with US-designated terrorists. The Iranian outlet affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Fars news, published a declaration from the Basij professors at Tehran University stating that they will do everything possible to bring about the “destruction of the infamous Zionist regime.” The US government designated the IRGC, which includes its subsidiary, the Basij, as a foreign terrorist organization.

McGill’s Institute of Islamic Studies received $270,000 in donations between 2004 and 2010 from the Iranian regime-controlled U.S.-based Alavi Foundation. The US government seized the building of the Alavi Foundation due to the foundation’s role in busting US sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

McGill University’s Islamic Studies department awarded Mohammad Jafar Mahallati a PhD in 2006. Amnesty International accused Mahallati of covering up crimes against humanity when he was the Iranian regime’s ambassador to the UN in 1988. Iran’s rulers executed 5,000 political prisoners in 1988. In a 2020 email to the Post, Mahallati rejected the Amnesty allegations.

Alireza Nader, the engagement director for the US-based National Union for a Democratic Iran (NUFDI), told the Post that “The Islamic Republic has established significant influence in Western and American academia which deserves scrutiny and investigation. The regime’s influence operations and lobbying are particularly strong in Canada and may have impacted Ottawa’s policies toward the Islamic Republic.”

Canada has refused to proscribe the IRGC a foreign terrorist organization.

Sheina Vojoudi, an associate fellow for the Gold Institute for International Strategy, told the Post “If, according to McGill’s Media Relations Office, there’s no formal and active cooperation between the Islamic Republic and McGill University, it should be announced publicly and it would be a right course of action because Islamic Republic universities never respect other religions and discriminate against them. And, of course, the antisemitic Al-Quds rally will never be stopped at the universities under the Islamic Republic.”

She added that "There are security departments at every university in Iran which cooperate with the IRGC Intelligence and the ministry of intelligence in Iran and help them to identify the students who have participated in protests or if they are converted from Islam or if they’re politically active.”

Vojoudi, who fled to Germany due to persecution in Iran, said “Another important subject that should be considered by McGill University is that the Canadian members of parliament have voted to designate the IRGC, which controls almost all the universities in Iran as a terrorist organization. It’s like cooperating with the universities controlled by the Taliban. It doesn’t matter that McGill University started its cooperation with Iran before the Islamic Revolution. The only thing that matters is that the ruling regime in Iran is a criminal regime and I think that the universities mustn’t be a place for normalizing the theocratic regimes in the world.”

McGill University has been embroiled in a running series of antisemitism scandals over the years. In late March, the Canadian organization Honest Reporting wrote"On March 8, Claire Frankel, a Jewish student at McGill University and an HonestReporting Canada Campus Media Fellow, submitted a column  for publication to The McGill Tribune entitled: ‘Queer McGill is not a safe space for Jews,’ but the campus newspaper rejected it, stating on March 26 (over two weeks after the column was originally submitted) that her article ‘doesn’t align with our values as a paper’ as ‘Zionism is a settler-colonial ideology that has perpetuated the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.”’

McGill Tribune Opinion Editors Chloé Kichenane & Kareem Abuali sent the rejection letter to Frankel.

The Post sent press queries to the editors of The McGill Tribune. When asked about the Tribune’s refusal to publish Frankel’s article and antisemitism at McGill, the university told the Post: "McGill strongly condemns all forms of racism and discrimination, including Antisemitism. University leaders have been consistently clear that there is no place at McGill for discriminatory behavior, attitudes, or discourse that run contrary to our core principles."