Griffith update: Hand back Saudi cash, uni urged

 Richard Kerbaj/The Australian

MUSLIM community leaders have urged Griffith University to return a $100,000 grant from the Saudi Arabian embassy as prominent academics attacked vice-chancellor Ian O’Connor for his confusion over the Islamic ideology embraced by Osama bin Laden.


* How does mainstream Islam differ from the Islam of OBL & Al Zawahiri? Do they read a different Koran?

Professor O’Connor was yesterday also attacked by fellow academics for partly plagiarising his written defence of the Saudi grant from online encyclopedia Wikipedia – as revealed by The Weekend Australian – and accused of being out of his depth on Islamic issues.

The anger in Muslim and academic circles follows revelations by The Australian that the Queensland university asked the Saudis for a $1.37 million grant, of which it received $100,000, and offered to keep elements of the funding deal secret.


The nation’s most senior female Muslim leader, Aziza Abdel-Halim, urged Griffith to return the Saudi funds, saying the Saudi Government was known for funding projects such as mosques and religious activities in Australia to “subtly” impose its hardline ideology on recipients.

* Damage control:

“If there are no guarantees they have a free hand in their curriculum … then it is safer to give the money back,” she told The Australian. “If they are not able to have no strings attached, then it’s better to not have the money.”

Documents unveiled by The Australian last week revealed that Professor O’Connor, among other staff, offered the embassy a chance to “discuss ways” in which the money could be used.

Professor O’Connor was defended yesterday by Griffith’s chancellor, Leneen Forde, who described him as an “outstanding leader”, saying the university would not have accepted Saudi funds if they had conditions attached.

“In relation to the two sentences lifted from the Wikipedia entry, Professor O’Connor has acknowledged this was inappropriate,” she wrote in a memo to staff. “This is regrettable, but is a very minor error compared to the outstanding work which Professor O’Connor has done and will continue to do for the university.”


A Howard government adviser on Islam, Ameer Ali, said Professor O’Connor was wrong to interchange the term Wahabbism – a Saudi-pioneered Islamic ideology espoused by al-Qa’ida – with Unitarianism when he defended the Saudi grant in an opinion piece published by The Australian last week.

Melbourne University associate professor Shahram Akbarzadeh said Professor O’Connor played down and did not properly reflect the essence of Wahabbism by calling it Unitarianism.

“Wahabbism and Salafism are a social ideological movement … and it’s all about merging political power with religious piety,” he said. “That was an early case of … political rulers appealing to Islamic principles and Islamic justification for their rule.”


* But Islam is always political, not spiritual. And the smiling taqiyya doctor Mohamed Abdalla from the Griffith ‘Islamic Studies Centre’ along with his cronies distribute a Koran and glossy proselytizing  brochures  which are authorized  and produced by the King Fahd Academy of Sowdi Arabiyah. How much more Wahabi-Salafi can it get?  The fox is in the henhouse…


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