The Investigative Project has just reproduced an important letter from Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va) requesting information from the Saudi-funded Center For Muslim Christian Understanding of Georgetown University.
It is worth recalling that Saudi prince Alaweed bin Talal donated $20 million to the center, led by Dr. John Esposito, a long-time supporter of the international Muslim Brotherhood. Esposito has served on the boards of numerous Muslim Brotherhood-linked organizations (USAR in the United States, IIPT in Great Britain, run by open Hamas supporter Azzam Tamimi, etc.) while defending Sami al Arian, Yousef al Qaradawi, and on and on.
HRH bin Talal also late last year donated $1.48 million to the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA),one of the principle Muslim Brotherhood organizations operating in the United States.
Wolf's letter is important because it asks all the right questions, noting that "no changes have been made to the underlying legal authority relating to non-Muslim worship that the Saudis have relied on to enforce these (restrictions on civil society and religious freedom) rules."
Given the Georgetown Center's role in training U.S. foreign service personnel, Wolf asks if the Center has "produced any analysis critical of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, for example in fields of human rights, religious freedom, freedom of expression, women's rights, minority rights, protections of foreign workers, due process and the rule of law.
"It is also important to know if the center has examined Saudi links to extremism and terrorism, including the relationship between Saudi public education and the Kingdom-supported clerical establishment on the one hand and the rise of anti-American attitudes, extremism and violence in the Muslim world o the other."
There it is in a nutshell. Why are academic institutions taking gifts that leave them beholden to a regime that abuses human rights, stifles dissent, bans any form of religious tolerance and preaches hatred-providing the theological and political infrastructure to the most radical and violent versions of Islam?
As Nina Shea, the director of the Center for Religious Freedom at Freedom House documented in 2006, and wrote about in the Washington Post op-ed, the Saudi educational system systematically teaches hate and intolerance, despite the Kingdom's expensive campaign to portray itself as having modernized.
Would we let any other narrow-minded, thuggish country throw that kind of money around and not only not question it, but send our foreign service officers there to study? Perhaps the Charles Taylor Center on Human Rights, if he coughed up the money? The Iranian Center on Nuclear Non-Proliferation? The Saudi situation is just as absurd.
So, a tip of the hat to Rep. Wolf, who for years has been a true champion of human rights, focusing on Africa and its often-forgotten wars and abuses. Someone is finally asking the right questions.