The hundreds of millions of foreign dollars, including from the Saudi royal family, poured into Georgetown University and its prestigious diplomatic training program in the shadow of the State Department has come under scrutiny in the wake of the apparent murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside at a Saudi embassy.
In an investigation, the Daily Caller Foundation cited Education Department data showing Georgetown has received $400 million in gifts and contracts from foreign governments and individuals since 2011.
The vast majority were contracts requiring Georgetown to do something in return for the money, rather than gifts, the Daily Caller pointed out.
A politically active Muslim studies program within Georgetown that trains future diplomats and interacts with the Washington political scene was funded by the Saudi royal family.
The Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, or CMCU, at Georgetown is named after the patron who donated $20 million.
The CMCU director is prominent Islam scholar John Esposito, who leads CMCU’s Bridge Initiative, described as a “research project” that highlights “the problem of Islamophobia.”
Its published works, the Daily Caller reported, include “What’s Wrong With The ‘March Against Sharia'” and “Why We Should Ditch The Phrase ‘Moderate Muslims.'”
Jihad Watch Director Robert Spencer has noted Esposito has called Muslim Brotherhood Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who advocates jihad-martyrdom suicide bombings and has praised Hitler’s genocide of the Jews, a champion of a “reformist interpretation of Islam and its relationship to democracy, pluralism and human rights.”
Esposito also has called the Council on American-Islamic Relations — a group designated by the Justice Department as a terrorist co-conspirator and by the United Arab Emirates as a terrorist group — a “phenomenal organization.” Esposito has explained he has spoken at CAIR fundraisers to “show solidarity” with the group.
Former Republican Rep. Frank Wolf of Virginia asked Georgetown in 2008 if it had ever written any reports critical of Saudi Arabia since receiving the funds.
Georgetown did not answer the question, but a bipartisan congressional panel already had found that the government of Saudi Arabia “engages in systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of the right to freedom of religion or belief.”
The Daily Caller said the Saudi-backed CMCU is now working to tie social justice causes with Muslim issues close to the authoritarian kingdom.
A syllabus titled “Islamophobia is Racism,” according to the CMCU website, seeks “to convey the process by which Islamophobia functions as not only religious-based discrimination, but discrimination animated by racism as well.”
“The syllabus underscores the institutionalized and structural nature of Islamophobia racism, which begets long-term and systematic inequalities, stigmatization and exclusion.”
Using techniques to connect with U.S. youth culture, it pushes themes using a Twitter hashtag and resists “anti-Muslim racism” using “hip hop.”