LSE suspends study program financed by Gaddafi’s son

Prestigious London university announced it has "reconsidered" its North African research program.

Seif al Islam Gadhafi 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
Seif al Islam Gadhafi 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
LONDON – A prestigious London university announced this week that it has suspended a study program funded by a charity run by the son of Libyan leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi.
The London School of Economics (LSE) said on Monday that it had reconsidered its links with Libya “as a matter of urgency,” and suspended a North African research program partly funded by Seif al-Islam Gaddafi following the recent violence in Libya.
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“The School has had a number of links with Libya in recent years. In view of the highly distressing news from Libya over the weekend of 19-20 February, the School has reconsidered those links as a matter of urgency,” LSE said in a statement.
The university said that in 2009 it accepted £1.5 million from the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation, which is chaired by the younger Gaddafi, who is also a graduate of school.
According to its website, the Foundation “carries out developmental and humanitarian activities in the social, economic, cultural and human rights fields.” On Tuesday LSE said it had only received £300,000 to date and that no more will be accepted.
LSE has also received scholarship funding in return for counsel given to the Libyan Investment Authority in London.
Student Rights, a London-based organization focused on tackling extremism on UK university campuses has called on the university to donate the £300,000 it has so far received from Gaddafi’s trust and donate it to a charity helping victims of his father’s oppressive regime.
“It is abhorrent that an institution such as the LSE is engaging openly with such a deplorable and oppressive regime,” said Student Rights director Raheem Kassam.
“Much of the £300,000 has already been spent or committed to research and publications.
The School is looking closely at its commitments, particularly those to fund scholarships.
The LSE Council will consider the position, and the use of any remaining uncommitted funds, when the position has been clarified,” LSE told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.
Gaddafi received a doctorate from the LSE in 2009 and gave the university the £1.5 million the same year.
“This donation will support us as we work to increase understanding of global problems and to encourage interaction between academics and policy makers,” Prof. David Held, a codirector of the center, said upon receiving the donation. “It is a generous donation from an NGO committed to the promotion of civil society and the development of democracy.”
“I have known Seif al-Islam Gaddafi for several years since he did a PhD at the LSE,” said Held. “During this time I came to know a young man who was caught between loyalties to his family and a desire to reform his country.
In many discussions and meetings I encouraged the development of his reform agenda and subsequently sought to support it through research on the North Africa Program funded by the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation,” the professor said.
“My support for Seif al-Islam Gaddafi was always conditional on him resolving the dilemma that he faced in a progressive and democratic direction. The speech last night makes it abundantly clear that his commitment to transforming his country has been overwhelmed by the crisis he finds himself in.”
Held said that Gaddafi had “tragically, but fatefully,” made the wrong judgement.
“As a result, the LSE has stopped new work on the North Africa Program, although we will continue to pursue research and policy development, as we have done, on behalf of the democratization process in the Middle East,” Held added.