Winfield Myers is Director of Academic Affairs for Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum that reviews and critiques Middle East Studies bias with the aim of improving higher education. Mr. Myers briefed MEF in a conference call on November 21, 2018.
For some time, Middle East Studies (MES) professors have been whitewashing Islamism on U.S. campuses and nowhere more so than at Georgetown University's Saudi-funded Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding (ACMCU).
Exploiting its Washington D.C. location to the full, the center has wielded influence on legislators, Hill staffers, D.C. think tanks, and the national media. John Esposito, the center's first director who presented Islamism as a path to spreading democracy throughout the Muslim world, influenced members of the Bush administration. His successor, Jonathan Brown, is a convert to Islam who made the news by defending slavery in Islam, while Ibrahim Kalin, an ACMCU senior fellow, is an advisor and spokesman for Turkey's Islamist president Erdoğan, who notoriously shut universities and incarcerated thousands of academics following the failed 2016 coup.
The Bridge Center, a project of ACMCU, includes Arsalan Iftikhar as a senior research fellow. Iftikhar is the former national legal director of the Council for Islamic-American Relations (CAIR), cited as an unindicted co-conspirator in the 2007-08 Holy Land Foundation trial for funding Hamas, a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization.
Last month ACMCU professors played the key role in a conference at an Istanbul university, chaired by Sami al-Arian - a former University of South Florida professor jailed in 2006 for funding the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and deported to Istanbul in a 2015 plea bargain. By disregarding the veneer of legitimacy their presence conferred on Erdoǧan's repressive autocracy, and by willingly participating in a conference chaired by a convicted terrorism sponsor, the ACMCU and fellow attendees from other American universities provided a sad testament to the depths to which Middle East Studies in U.S. universities has sunk.
Summary account by Marilyn Stern, Communications Coordinator for the Middle East Forum