$10 Million Saudi Yale Gift the Tip of a $100 Billion Iceberg

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Last week Saudi businessman Abdullah Kamel donated $10 million to Yale Law School, to establish a Center of Islamic law and Civilization. This was not a benign gift, but a deliberate part of Saudi Arabia’s broader strategy of spending money to spread its ideology.

The version of Islamic civilization taught at Yale and the version of sharia law taught there will not be a pluralistic open discussion of the rich tapestry of Islamic thought. It will be proselytizing Saudi Wahhabism.

Saudi Arabia donates money around the world to fund its intolerant, supremacist and theocratic vision of Islam. It has already endowed Harvard and Georgetown Universities with $20 million each, used to fund chairs of Islamic Studies. At Georgetown, the HRH Prince Alaweed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding purports to promote interfaith dialogue.

Its subsidiary, The Bridge Initiative devotes itself to attacking perceived “enemies of Islam” and the “islamophobia industry” in the United States, rather than promoting intercultural dialogue. It tries to paint any criticism of Islamist ideology or individuals as irrational bigotism. For example, it has tried to delegitimize activists such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali who grew up in the Muslim majority society of Somalia, denying her the right to speak out about their own experiences.

They also regularly go out of their way to undermine Muslims who condemn terrorism, accusing people who ask or expect Muslims to condemn terrorism of being “Islamophobes” (see their article “What’s Wrong with Asking Muslims to Condemn Terrorism?”)

It is thought that Saudi Arabia has spent over $100 billion financing Wahhabism in other Muslim countries around the world over the past 30 years, money garnered from the sale of oil. This money has been used to try and takeover Islam, replacing diverse and unique religious traditions with the single, monolithic, puritan doctrine of Wahhabism.

From 2011 to 2013, 25,000 Saudi clerics went to India with $250 million. The money was earmarked for proselytization, construction of mosques and organizing seminars in universities to preach Wahhabism.

In Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, Saudi money poured into thousands of mosques and madrassas and played a key role in the increasingly hardline and hostile religious climate of those countries.

Saudi funding for the Wahhabist doctrine worldwide is well documented and extends across the world. It uses interfaith dialogue as a key part of its strategy to portray itself as the sole legitimate arbiter of Islam.

“The more tolerant indigenous versions of Islam cannot survive in the face of the tsunami of money being poured into promoting theo-fascist Wahhabism,” writes Dr. Yousaf Butt, senior advisor to the British American Security Information Council. “This is a major problem that the Muslim world must urgently address.”

Omer Aziz, a fellow at the Yale Information Society Project, concluded that by Yale accepting the money, they make themselves complicit in Saudi Arabia’s support of international Islamism.

“Mr. Kamel's check should be returned to him and his Saudi patrons, with clear instructions that they spend the money making amends for The Family's many crimes against humanity, their genocide of Islamic civilization,” he argued.

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Meira Svirsky

Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org