Academic Pay to Play: Radical Islamists Fund One of Their Own in Ontario

Huron University College (HUC) in Ontario announced Friday morning the appointment of Ingrid Mattson, a professor at Hartford Seminary in Connecticut and former president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), as the first London and Windsor Community Chair in Islamic Studies at its Faculty of Theology.

The move validates widespread concern, as revealed in this Campus Watch article by Canadian journalist Barbara Kay and a letter from concerned faculty and friends at HUC, both published in May, that the support of several Islamist groups in funding the chair would lead to the appointment of a radical Islamist as the first holder. In Ingrid Mattson, the funders' wishes have been fulfilled.

Mattson, an Ontario native and convert to Islam whom the New York Times called, "perhaps the most noticed figure among American Muslim women," has a long history of defending, denying, and obfuscating the true nature of radical Islam in settings both academic and political.  She was the first woman and convert to lead ISNA, which has close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and was named an unindicted co-conspirator in the 2007 U.S. v. Holy Land Foundation, a terrorism financing case that tracked monies funneled to Hamas.  Daniel Pipes has written that, under Mattson's leadership, ISNA was "a key component of the Wahhabi lobby."  Journalist Stephen Schwartz noted earlier this year that, her tenure at ISNA complete, Mattson was "still advancing radical Islam," as she did in an October, 2001, CNN chat room when she claimed that Wahhabi Islam "really was analogous to the European protestant reformation."

Her new perch at HUC was funded in part by organizations with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood: the Muslim Association of Canada (MAC) and the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT). In 2008, Temple University declined a $1.5 million gift from IIIT to endow a chair in Islamic studies, citing ongoing federal investigation of IIIT's possible involvement in funding Palestinian terrorists.  To make matters worse for HUC, the chair also involved the Islamic Centre for Southwestern Ontario -- an organization with ties to a Libyan-based charity of now-deposed dictator Muammar Qaddafi.

As reported by the Ottowa Citizen on May 7, 2011, the Islamic Centre's head, Assem Fadel, also led the Libya-based World Islamic Call Society (WICS), whose charitable status was revoked by the Canadian government this spring after it determined that a Libyan charity sent money to the private bank account of WICS's head -- the same Assem Fadel. Fadel then transferred the money to WICS, from which it was sent to terrorist organizations outside Canada.

The letter's writers stated the problem succinctly:

Here we have a clear and indisputable link between Qaddafi-sponsored terrorist related activities involving the president of the Islamic Centre of Southwestern Ontario, a funding organisation of the chair in Islamic Studies.

In an April letter signed by twenty-six "alumni, friends, and faculty" of HUC, then-interim-principal (president) Trish Fulton was alerted to the radical nature of the chair's supporters, including the Muslim Association of Canada's boasts on its website that it seeks to practice Islam according to "the approach of Imam Hassan Al-Banna [who] best exemplifies [a] balanced, comprehensive understanding of Islam." Al-Banna was the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, the inspiration of many contemporary radical Islamist groups, and its motto is: "Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Qu'ran is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope."

Fulton dismissed these objections in a telephone conversation with Barbara Kay in May:

To my [Kay's] question of whether she felt the beliefs and principles of MAC and IIIT were 'compatible with [Huron's] values,' I received a prompt and firm 'yes.' Dr. Fulton elaborated: 'We don't probe deeply into values held by donors.' Huron, she said, is 'concerned about the legitimacy and the civic presence' of donors, but 'not the views they may hold on a wide variety of cultural issues.' In Dr. Fulton's view, it is only a group's 'actions' that would 'compromise the academic pursuit.'

Fulton's successor, Stephen McClatchie, took over HUC July 1, 2011.  In the press release announcing Mattson's appointment, McClatchie enthused, "Mattson brings an incredible wealth of knowledge and expertise to this area of study and Huron is privileged to have a scholar of her calibre." He said that HUC is "honoured" that she accepted their offer.

It's likely that the financial supporters of Mattson's chair, with their ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and the Qaddafi regime, are equally honored by the College's eagerness to do their bidding. After all, they got exactly what they paid for.

Winfield Myers is director of academic affairs at the Middle East Forum. This article was written for Campus Watch, a project of the Forum.

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