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Posted on Nov 28, 2013

School of Oriental and African Studies

School of Oriental and African Studies



In 2011, the SOAS Palestine Society organised an event called ‘Celebrate Palestine: Stories of the Resistance’, which descended into violence and anti-Semitic incidents.[1] A pro-Israel group was attacked verbally and physically, with one anti-Israel activist reported to have said, “the best thing the Jews have ever done was go into the gas chamber. It was the best thing to happen to Germany to have been cleaned of Jews. The same thing needs to happen in the Middle East”.[2] A pro-Israel supporter was punched and bitten, resulting in him being hospitalised.[3]

In December 2011 Saudi cleric Dr Aaidh Al-Qarni, who has been known to make anti-Semitic remarks as well as comments endorsing violence, was invited to speak at SOAS.[4] He has referred to Jews as “the brothers of apes and pigs”, and said, “We are incapable of taking action, of being useful, of harming the Jews”.[5] In a 2004 speech Dr. Al-Qarni stated that “the path to victory” in Iraq required that “houses and young men must be sacrificed, throats must be slit and skulls must be shattered.[6]

Abdel Bari Atwan spoke on an unchallenged platform at SOAS in May 2012, in an event hosted by the SOAS Palestinian Society.[7] Abdel Bari Atwan has been quoted as saying he would “dance with delight” in Trafalgar Square if Iran bombed Israel.[8] At a discussion in 2010 at LSE he said, when asked to condemn Hamas and Hizbollah, “Do you want me to condemn people for resisting the occupation? Did Hamas commit ethnic cleansing?”[9] A Jewish alumnus who attended the SOAS event was harassed.[10] Audience members attempted to take his camera and his bag, and one attendee was heard to call him “a typical Israeli”.[11]

The leader of the British branch of Hizb ut-Tahrir, Abdul Wahid, spoke at spoke at SOAS in November 2011.[12]

Azzam Tamimi gave a talk at SOAS in February 2010 in which he praised Hamas, denying that it was a terrorist organisation, and said that he will “continue to struggle until Israel is no more.”[13] He has previously described suicide bombing for Palestine “a noble cause” and claimed he would do it given the opportunity.[14]

In 2009, SOAS invited Bongani Masuku to speak about boycotting Israel.[15] The South African Human Rights Commission has found Mr. Masuku guilty of hate speech.[16] When an audience member queried why Mr. Masuku had been invited to participate in the discussion given his history of anti-Semitism, the chair told everyone present to ignore the question.[17]

In 2009, SOAS also invited Ibrahim Moussawi to speak on its course about political Islam.[18] Mr. Moussawi is Hezbollah’s media relations officer and the head of its propaganda station al Manar TV, which is banned in most of Europe due to its anti-Semitic content and its frequent incitement of violence.[19] He has been reported as saying that Jews were “a lesion on the forehead of history.”[20]

He was refused an entry visa.[21]

Kamal el-Helbawy, a former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood was invited to speak at SOAS in 2009.[22] Mr. Helbawy was quoted in a 2008 BBC interview as saying that Israeli children could not be considered civilians because they were future soldiers.[23]

The SOAS Islamic Society invited Ismail Patel, who has described Hamas as “one of the noblest resistance movements I’ve come across” to speak in February 2009.


Rupon Haque, a student at SOAS, helped organise and promote an event in November 2011 on behalf of the SOAS student union’s Belief and Reason Society, which hosted the leader of the British branch of Hizb ut-Tahrir, Abdul Wahid.[24] He is a Hizb ut-Tahrir supporter and has regularly promoted it on social networking sites.[25]



Dr Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a cleric who is banned from the UK and US for endorsing suicide bombings and the killing of pregnant women, is on the editorial board of the SOAS journal of Quranic Studies.[26] [27] He is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, and is virulently anti-Semitic.[28] He has described the Holocaust as “divine punishment”, and said, “Oh Allah, take this oppressive, Jewish Zionist band of people. Oh Allah, do not spare a single one of them.”[29]

Professor Mohammad Abdel Haleem is King Fahd Professor of Islamic Studies at the Department of the Languages and Cultures of Near and Middle East, and Director of the Centre of Islamic Studies at SOAS.[30] He is also a trustee at the King Fahad Academy, which has used textbooks describing Christians as “pigs” and Jews as “apes”.[31] The Centre of Islamic Studies was established through a donation from the Saudi Royal family.[32] Professor Haleem was pictured receieving an award from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2010.[33]


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SOAS has been linked to the Saudi Royal family, having received £755,000 in funding from them between 2006 and 2010, despite their horrendous human rights record.[34] These donations were made in order to fund the Islamic Studies Centre and Journal of Qur’anic Studies.[35] The Islamic Studies Centre is headed by Professor Mohammad Abdel Haleem, a trustee at the King Fahad Academy, which has used textbooks describing Christians as “pigs” and Jews as “apes”, while the Journal of Qur’anic Studies counts Yusf al-Qaradawi, an anti-Semite who is banned from the UK for endorsing suicide bombing, among its advisory board members.[36] It has been alleged that scholars at SOAS find it difficult to find funding for any work that challenges orthodoxy due to the influence of conservative Saudi donors.[37]

SOAS accepted an £8.8m donation from the Sultan of Brunei, a state considered ‘not free’ by Freedom House.[38]

SOAS has accepted a donation of £180,000 from Iran in 1999.[39] Within weeks of receiving a donation from the Iranian Government, SOAS ran a conference celebrating the life of Ayatollah Khomeini, which featured a keynote speech by the Iranian Supreme Leader’s representative to the UK.[40] In 2007, an organisation named ‘Council for the Promotion of Persian Language and Literature’, held an official celebration of the Islamic Revolution, organized and sponsored by the Iranian embassy in London.[41] SOAS claimed that they were duped.[42] The following year the Cultural Centre of the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran, organised a symposium advertised as “In Praise of the 29th Anniversary of the Victory of the Islamic Revolution”.[43] Two SOAS academics were pictured receiving awards from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2010.[44]



[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.


[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.


[8] Ibid.



[11] Ibid.



[14] Ibid.



[17] Ibid.


[19] Ibid.




[23] Ibid.


[25] Ibid.




[29] Ibid.


[31] Ibid.

[32] Ibid.

[33] Ibid.


[35] Ibid.

[36] Ibid.







[43] Ibid.


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