Student group calls on LSE to revoke Saif al-Islam’s PhD

London-based organization says the university owes it to its students to revoke Gaddafi's degree.

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi 311 (R) (photo credit: Ammar El-Darwish/Reuters)
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi 311 (R)
(photo credit: Ammar El-Darwish/Reuters)
LONDON – Following the capture of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi last week in Libya, a student group has again issued a call for the London School of Economics (LSE) to strip him of the doctorate he received in 2008.
Student Rights, a London-based organization tackling extremism on campus, said this week that the university owes it to its students, staff, donors and the British public to revoke the degree awarded to the man accused of crimes against humanity.
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The organization first began its campaign in April after it exposed links between the university and Saif’s father, slain Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Earlier this year, Sir Howard Davis resigned as LSE director over the university’s links with the Gaddafi regime and for accepting donations from the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation.
Student Rights petitioned to have LSE redirect the £1.5 million it received in 2009 from the Gaddafi Foundation, of which Saif al-Islam was chairman. Following an outcry and media attention, the university put the money into a scholarship fund for North African students.
Saif received his PhD from LSE’s Center for the Study of Global Governance in 2008.
The University of London is currently investigating claims that Saif plagiarized his thesis, “The role of civil society in the democratization of global governance institutions: from ‘soft power’ to collective decision-making?” He allegedly used large sections of text copied from sources with little or no attribution. The Independent newspaper said in March that Saif “enlisted Libyan academics to help ghost-write his thesis” and such assistance was rewarded with diplomatic posts.
Student Rights said that Saif has no right to maintain his academic credential in light of his deep involvement with a tyrannical regime and the brutal crackdown on democratic protests. The organization said it is a great disservice both to the LSE and to academic integrity to allow him to retain his doctorate degree.
Raheem Kassam, director of Student Rights, said “the fact that the LSE have yet to strip Saif Gaddafi of his PhD when he is being investigated for crimes against humanity is unconscionable.
“Amidst accusations of plagiarism, the implication of academic corruption and the evidence of his recent brutality, the LSE must act now or admit that they are guilty of an horrific abdication of moral responsibility,” he said.