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McGill must end its academic partnership with an Iranian regime-controlled university that seeks the extermination of the Jews

STOP IRAN NOW - March 28, 2023

Author of the article:

Benjamin Weinthal and Charles Asher Small, Special to National Post

While some academic institutions, such as the University of Freiburg in Germany, have pulled the plug on their affiliation with Iranian universities that urge the destruction of Israel, McGill University in Montreal continues to mainstream lethal antisemitism through its partnership with Tehran University.

Making matters worse is the Iranian regime’s ongoing imprisonment of McGill alumnus Niloufar Bayani. Jan. 24 was the fifth anniversary of her incarceration.

McGill University’s Institute of Islamic Studies is now in a position to deliver a crystal-clear message — that it will no longer partner with an institution controlled by a regime that arrested Bayani and actively seeks the destruction of the world’s largest Jewish community in the State of Israel — by closing its branch in Tehran.

Tehran University, which is home to the Institute of Islamic Studies’ Tehran Branch, has a history of hosting speakers and hiring professors promoting the destruction of the State of Israel and other acts of violence.

The Iranian cleric Hojjatoleslam Mohammad Javad Haj Ali Akbari announced 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.”

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, launched Al-Quds Day in 1979 as a protest against Israel’s right to exist. Al-Quds Day demonstrations blanket Iranian cities and, in a revolutionary expression of genocidal antisemitism, call for the total elimination of the Jewish state.

The International Quran News Agency, a regime-controlled news website, also published a report about a 2008 conference at Tehran University titled, “The rise of Islam, Destruction of Israel.”

Elsewhere, Fars News — an Iranian outlet affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which has been designated as a terrorist organization by the United States — published a statement 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 Basij is militia organization that falls the under the control of the IRGC and is responsible for crushing the current demonstrations unfolding in Iran.

Tehran University is not only obsessed with promoting the demise of the Jewish state. One of its professors, Mohammad Sadegh Koushki, endorsed the assassination of the British-American author Salman Rushdie in August 2022, shortly after the pro-Iranian regime suspect Hadi Matar sought to murder Rushdie in upstate New York. Khomeini issued a fatwa to kill Rushdie in 1988 because he said his book, “The Satanic Verses,” defamed the Islamic faith. The Middle East Media Research Institute translated an Iranian television interview with Koushki, a professor in the faculty of law and political science at the University of Tehran, in which he declared that Rushdie was a “dead man walking.” Koushki went on to defend the fatwa to murder Rushdie, noting that Khomenei “had the wisdom to issue this verdict back then, so that such a thing would never repeat itself.”

Canada, to its credit, has not had formal diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic since 2012, but financial and academic ties between the two countries remain. Between 2004 and 2010, McGill’s Institute of Islamic Studies received $270,000 in donations from the Iranian-controlled, U.S.-based Alavi Foundation, which is used by the regime to advance its interests in North America.

McGill itself is a hotbed of pro-Iranian regime activity. In October, McGill Prof. Soroosh Shahriari tweeted in support of the Islamic Republic’s brutal crackdown on the female-led revolt against misogyny and the forced wearing of the hijab in response to the murder of Mahsa Amini, who died while in the custody of the state’s infamous morality police after being picked up for not wearing her hijab properly. Shahriari tweeted about how “sweet” and “heartwarming” it would be to see the demonstrators killed.

The link between McGill University and the Islamic Republic was catapulted into the spotlight after family members of victims of a 1988 massacre in Iran exposed the fact that Mohammad Jafar Mahallati, a professor of religion at Oberlin College in Ohio and former Iranian ambassador to the United Nations, had, according to an Amnesty International report, attempted to cover up the mass murder of an estimated 5,000 Iranian prisoners.

Mahallati received a PhD in Islamic studies from McGill in 2006, which shows that the university failed to properly vet him in its admissions process. While the Amnesty report wasn’t released until 2018, Mahallati’s tirades against Israel at the UN — including his genocidal antisemitism, in which he called for a global jihad against the Jewish state and sought to negate its right to exist — have long been a matter of public record.

While at the UN, Mahallati also excused his government’s violent persecution of Iran’s Baha’i religious community. A 2021 editorial in the Oberlin Review student newspaper — titled, Evidence Against Mahallati Irrefutable — took Mahallati to task for lying about his role in covering up the mass murder of Iranian citizens and for his incitement against the Baha’i community. Despite this, Oberlin College launched an investigation, which amounted to little more than a cover-up of Mahallati’s cover-up of Iran’s crimes against humanity.

McGill’s Institute of Islamic Studies promotes material that mirrors the anti-Israel propaganda that Mahallati peddles. One telling example is an entry on the institute’s website congratulating an incoming student for publishing an article on the U.S.-based Mondoweiss website, which critics consider profoundly antisemitic, anti-Israel and anti-Zionist.

Given this history, it’s little wonder that outbreaks of antisemitism have punctuated McGill campus life over the years. One example was revealed when a Jewish student leader, Jordyn Wright, accused the Student Society of McGill University of antisemitism after it tried to oust her from the student union for accepting a trip to Israel.

Unfortunately, McGill’s Institute of Islamic Studies has failed to respond to our inquiries on these matters since February.

McGill University should end its academic partnership with an Iranian regime-controlled university that seeks the extermination of the Jews. The University of Freiburg in Germany made clear in 2019 that its co-operation with the University of Isfahan was no longer tenable. McGill University needs to do the right thing and take a similar stand.

Benjamin Weinthal is a writing fellow for the Middle East Forum. Charles Asher Small is the executive director of the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy, director of the post-doctorate fellowship training programme in contemporary antisemitism studies at the Woolf Institute and a graduate of McGill University.

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