Harvard Hires Iranian Regime Supporter Who Warned of ‘Jewish Threat’

University did not respond to press inquiries about visiting scholar

Ali Akbar Alikhani
Ali Akbar Alikhani
June 2, 2016

Harvard University is currently employing as a "visiting scholar" an Iranian hardline regime supporter who has warned against the "Jewish threat" and has been critical of Judaism and Israel, according to multiple sources.

Ali Akbar Alikhani, an associate professor at the University of Tehran, is currently serving as a visiting scholar at Harvard’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies, where he is on a project centered on "peace and peaceful coexistence in Islam."

Alikhani is a member of Tehran University’s Faculty of World Studies, which is closely tied to the Iranian ruling regime and has supported scholars who espouse the regime’s hardline ideology.

Harvard officials did not respond to multiple Washington Free Beacon requests for comment and further information about Alikhani’s employment.

The school’s decision to align itself with an ally of the Iranian regime has elicited criticism from some academics, who accuse the Ivy League school of betraying moderate Iranian voices who seek greater ties with the Western world.

Alikhani’s academic work has been critical of Israel and Zionism and adheres closely to the hardline philosophy espoused by Iran’s top leaders, including Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, according to a review of his work.

Alikhani praised an Arabic language book titled The Jewish Threat-Danger to Christianity and Islam as "strong and good," according to a Farsi language review he published.

He went on to explain that the book should "show the quality and the method of the Jewish threat," according to translations provided to the Free Beacon.

Alikhani added, "Considering the practical perspectives of this book, it was expected that the author at least in the areas of thoughts and beliefs, would provide practical and noticeable solutions or reject and refute the foundations of Judaism and Zionism himself."

In another of his academic works on Zionism, Alikhani argued that criticism of Israel was justified because it is "a country that from its inception was based on force, coercion, and oppression of others."

Alikhani argued that "the Jewish dissidents of Zionism" were in fact "propagandistic exploitations" created by the "Jewish government" to "pretend that Israel is a free country."

His paper cited several controversial academics, including Roger Garaudy, a French scholar known for denying the Holocaust. Garaudy’s death in 2012 was commemorated by the Iranian regime.

Alikhani’s other works have touted Rachid Ghannouchi, a Tunisian Islamist figure who has promoted violence against Jewish people and heads a group that is accused of having ties to Hamas.

The academic also has close ties with other Iranian regime-backed academics and political leaders.

Alikhani’s emergence at Harvard has sparked accusations that the school is giving credibility to Iran’s hardline regime, which continues to rail against America and Israel.

"Time after time, Western institutions lend academic credibility and a platform to extremists who operate unchallenged through the guise of interfaith dialogue," said Sam Westrop, research director of the advocacy group Americans for Peace and Tolerance. "By legitimizing a die-hard regime supporter like Alikhani as a voice of Shia Islam, Harvard is betraying the thousands of authentically moderate Iranian Muslims working to free their faith from the tyranny of the violent Iranian theocracy."

Alikhani defended his work at Harvard when contacted by the Free Beacon for comment.

"My research area always has been on political thought in Islam and [the] Islamic world," he said via email in response to questions about his past and current work. "In recent years, I am focusing on peace and peaceful coexistence in Islam. My research project at Harvard is The Islamic Model of peaceful Coexistence. I have never work on Judaism or leadership [sic]."

Harvard University media officials did not respond to requests for comment on Alikhani’s past work and how he came to be employed by the school.

Published under: Iran