PHILADELPHIA – December 7, 2023 – The Middle East Forum (MEF) played a pivotal role in the months-long campaign to oust Professor Mohammad Jafar Mahallati from his tenured position at Oberlin College. Partnering with Iranian American activists, MEF combined exclusive reporting and relentless advocacy to pressure Oberlin's administrators into placing Mahallati on "indefinite administrative leave."
Oberlin informed MEF that Mahallati had been removed from the campus on Nov. 28, his office vacated, and references to him scrubbed from the college's website.
"Mahallati's suspension punctuates the combined efforts of MEF and its dedicated Iranian-American partners who held protests, circulated petitions, and galvanized lawmakers," said Benjamin Baird, director of MEF Action.
Mahallati's ouster provides some small justice to family members of the Islamic Republic's 1988 prison massacres in which Mahallati had a key role, a fact that Oberlin College administrators repeatedly dismissed. The professor's suspension also follows a case, first revealed by MEF's coalition, concerning Mahallati's sex-for-grades relationship with a Columbia University graduate student.
MEF joined the Alliance Against Islamic Republic of Iran Apologists (AAIRIA), an anti-regime committee of former political prisoners and surviving family members, in efforts to build public opposition to Mahallati. MEF organized an Iranian American lobby at the Ohio Statehouse and convinced members of the U.S. Congress to send a letter to Oberlin College requesting answers about the school's hiring practices.
MEF's reporting exposed Mahallati's ongoing links to Iran's regime, his part in an Office of Civil Rights investigation into charges that the professor taught students "support for Hamas," and his calls for the destruction of Israel. Most recently, MEF unearthed court documents from a 1997 lawsuit accusing Mahallati of forcing a graduate student into an "emotionally abusive" sexual relationship in exchange for "academic benefits" while serving as an adjunct professor at Columbia University.
"Mahallati's suspension brings a profound sense of justice and accountability, not only to the victims' families, but to all those who have supported the tireless campaign for his removal as an educator," said Gregg Roman, director of MEF. "This long-awaited decision attests to the commitment of all those involved to safeguarding national security within the academic sphere and ensuring that educators act in the best interests of their students."
MEF now calls on Oberlin College to clarify the circumstances behind Mahallati's suspension and to initiate an independent inquiry into the school's hiring practices. Furthermore, Oberlin administrators must deny Mahallati future opportunities, pensions, or favorable references stemming from his work at Oberlin College.
MEF will continue to closely monitor developments in this case and advocate for responsible academic conduct.
The Middle East Forum, a non-profit organization, promotes American interests in the Middle East and protects Western civilization from Islamism. It does so through a combination of original ideas, focused activism, and funding allies. For more information, visit www.meforum.org.
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