Profile: Harvard Visiting Scholar Ali Akbar Alikhani
Ali Akbar Alikhani is a visiting scholar at Harvard, where he is running a research project on the “Islamic Model for Peaceful Coexistence.” Alikhani is also an academic at the Faculty of World Studies at University of Tehran, and is described by a number of Iranian websites as the “head of the Institute for Social and Cultural Studies”, which operates under the aegis of the Iranian regime’s Ministry of Science, Research and Technology.
Alikhani appears to share the views of his regime employers. His academic output in Iran has served to legitimize the religious and political foundations of the violent Iranian revolution in 1979, and develop the anti-Semitism and violent Islamism disseminated by the regime across the globe.
In a review of an Arabic book titled, ‘The Jewish Threat/Danger to Christianity and Islam’, Alikhani, writing in Farsi, concludes that book is “strong and good,” but criticises the author for failing to “show the quality and the method of the Jewish threat.” Alikhani adds: “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 published paper titled, “The Conceptual Characteristics of Post-Zionism,” Alikhani suggests that criticisms of the modern Israeli state are immaterial given the “historical violence of Zionism. … Israel is a country that from its inception was based on force, coercion and oppression of others.”
In the same academic paper, Alikhani cites a number of discredited academics, including the infamous French Holocaust denier Roger Garaudy, whose death was commemorated in Iran by high-ranking officials. Alikhani concludes that “the Jewish dissidents of Zionism” (and other examples of what he labels “post-Zionism”) are actually “propagandistic exploitations” enacted by “the Jewish government” to “pretend that Israel is a free country.”
Alikhani has also published a number of papers extolling the work of Rachid Ghannouchi, a prominent Tunisian Islamist operative. Ghannouchi has a long history of promoting violence against Jews, and the political party he established in Tunisia is closely linked to the terror group Hamas.
Ghannouchi was a signatory to the Istanbul Declaration, an Islamist document that advocated attacks on Western troops and Jewish communities. In 2005, Ghannouchi reportedly incited the killing of a Tunisian writer for the crime of writing an “irreverent book”. And according to Christopher Hitchens, several years ago, Ghannouchi denounced a female Muslim academic as an apostate after she wrote a “serious scholarly work explaining why the veil has no authority in the Quran.”
Alikhani’s main employer, the Faculty of World Studies at the University of Tehran, is a prominent incubator for pro-regime thinkers. Its faculty comprises prominent regime spokespersons and operatives.
These colleagues include Foad Izadi, whom the state-run press relies on for pro-regime statements. Izadi has tweeted articles from Marxist websites supposedly exposing the influence exerted by the “Jewish policy elite” over the American judiciary.
In 2014, Alikhani and another colleague, Dr Javad Sharbaf, welcomed an Egyptian delegation to the Faculty of World Studies. Sharbaf is the head of Palestinian Studies and a notorious supporter of Holocaust denial in the West. A decade ago, Sharbaf worked with Robert Faurisson, the notorious French Holocaust denier, to start organizing the infamous Holocaust Denial conference held in Tehran in 2006.
According to Ha’aretz, Sharbaf advised Faurisson that, thanks to the then-President Ahmadinejad’s very public support for Holocaust denial, “our assumption for the time being is that the president will undoubtedly do his best if you make contact and request assistance for organizing an international conference.”
Alikhani’s other colleagues at the Faculty for World Studies include Mohammad Ali Mousavi, Iran’s former ambassador to Canada; and Mohammad Javad Mohammadi, who is the son-in-law of the Supreme Leader himself, Ayatollah Khamenei. Mohammadi’s father, Mohammad Mohammadi Golpayegani, is Khamenei’s Chief of Staff and a former deputy-leader of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence.
Alikhani’s boss, meanwhile, is Dr Seyed Mohammad Marandi – the dean of the Faculty of World Studies. Marandi is the son of the Supreme Leader’s personal physician. Marandi is a prominent figure in Iran, who advocates that Israel must “cease to exist”. He is a frequent spokesperson for the regime in international media and has been linked to a number of other pro-regime Iranian academics in the West. Marandi also runs the University of Tehran Centre for Public Opinion Research, whose publications are reportedly stage-managed by Iran’s Foreign Ministry.
According to The Economist, Marandi is “close to the [Revolutionary] Guards” – the most powerful and bloodthirsty armed force in Iran, and the notorious ideological guardian of Iranian revolutionary fervor. In 2010, Marandi expressed support for the execution of two Iranians who protested the regime’s fraudulent 2009 elections.
One of the most interesting of Alikhani’s colleagues at the Faculty of World Studies, however, is Hassan Hosseini, an Iranian religious scholar from Qom. Although omitted from the university’s English website, in the Farsi section, Hosseini’s curriculum vitae lists that he previously worked for over a decade in Washington D.C. to “protect the interests” of the Iranian regime, presumably from the Iranian section in the Pakistani embassy.
In addition, Hosseini was also previously employed as an “expert researcher” at the Expediency Discernment Council, an administrative assembly originally appointed by the Supreme Leader to mediate disputes between the Parliament and the Council of Guardians. According to the current Iranian constitution, however, it operates as an advisory council to the Supreme Leader – an “unelected few”, as George Bush put it in 2002, who serve to enforce Iran’s theocratic ideals and authoritarian might, such as Iran’s repressive “anti-terrorism” laws.
Evidently, the Faculty of World Studies is made up of fervent supporters of the regime. Gauging from his writings on the virtues of Iran’s Shia Islamist roles, it seems apparent that Alikhani is exactly that.
This is further illustrated by Alikhani’s other position, as a senior official at the Institute for Social and Cultural Studies. The Institute operates under the aegis of Iran’s Ministry of Science. According to Andrew Gustafson, an Associate Professor at Creighton University in Nebraska, the Institute “produces a lot of the higher education curriculum for Iran.”
Alikhani also taught for many years at the Imam Sadiq University. This university was established by the regime as one of its key educational institutions. Ayatollah Khameini frequently addresses its students and faculty. The university serves to educate the “Iranian regime’s top cadre and officials from the State’s intelligence agency.” And the New York Times reports that the University is “owned by the Revolutionary Guards.”