"Harvard University and Georgetown University each announced yesterday that they had received $20 million donations from Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz Alsaud, a Saudi businessman and member of the Saudi royal family, to finance Islamic studies....In September 2005, Always On Watch blogged information about Prince Alwaleed here and here, when it was revealed that the prince had invested in the Fox News Network.
"Georgetown said it would use the gift - the second-largest it has ever received - to expand its Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, which is part of its Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. It said it would rename the center the H.R.H. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding....
"Martin Kramer, the author of Ivory Towers on Sand: The Failure of Middle Eastern Studies in America, which contends that the study of the Middle East and Islam is politically biased, said last night, 'Prince Alwaleed knows that if you want to have an impact, places like Harvard or Georgetown, which is inside the Beltway, will make a difference'....
"In making the two gifts, the prince focused on the importance of uniting disparate cultures.
"Harvard's news release quoted him as saying that he hoped Harvard's Islamic studies program 'will enable generations of students and scholars to gain a thorough understanding of Islam and its role both in the past and in today's world.'"
Some additional information about the Saudi Prince's impact on news coverage at Fox surfaced on December 7, 2005:
Saudi Billionaire Boasts of Manipulating Fox News CoverageA lengthy report about radical Arabs seeking influence over the U. S. news media from Accuracy in Media (AIM) is available here. The following is an excerpt from the introduction to the article:
"WASHINGTON -- Accuracy in Media (AIM) is urging a full inquiry into a report that a Saudi billionaire caused the Fox News Channel (FNC) to dramatically alter its coverage of the Muslim riots in France after he called the network to complain. The Saudi billionaire, Al-waleed bin Talal, is a friend of News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch and controls an influential number of voting shares in the company.
"'This report underscores the danger of giving foreign interests a significant financial stake in U.S. media companies,' declared Cliff Kincaid, editor of Accuracy in Media.
The controversial comments came at an Arab media conference featuring representatives of Time magazine, USA Today, PBS, The Wall Street Journal, and other news organizations. The conference and the Saudi Prince's growing influence in News Corporation are among the subjects of a new December-A AIM Report that has just been posted at the AIM website (www.aim.org). The report raises the specter of Arab money influencing News Corporation and other U.S. media companies.
Liberal journalist Danny Schechter, a participant in the conference, reports that Al-waleed, who is a member of the Saudi Royal Family and investor in the Fox News parent company News Corporation, gave an interview boasting that he had called Fox to complain about coverage of the 'Muslim riots' in France. He said he 'called as a viewer' and 'convinced them to change' the coverage because 'they were not Muslim riots but riots against poverty and inequality.' And 'they changed' the coverage, the Saudi reportedly said.
Another report on the comments, carried by the Dubai-based newspaper the Khaleej Times, says that Al-waleed personally called Rupert Murdoch to complain. The Saudi said, 'After a short while, there was a change' in the coverage.
An AIM call to Fox News asking for comment was not returned. This is not the first time that Al-waleed has made controversial statements. His $10 million contribution to a 9/11 fund was rejected when he blamed the terror attacks on U.S. Middle East policy. Fifteen of the 19 terrorist hijackers on 9/11 came from Saudi Arabia."
"Are the U.S. media being courted by those who hate America? Or is an honest attempt at 'international understanding' at hand?The Islamification of our universities and the news media continues apace, financed by Saudi dollars.
"The Arab Thought Foundation, which has strong financial connections to Saudi Arabia, is convening a conference in early December that is advertised as being designed to 'enhance interaction between Arab and international media organizations and bridge the gap between them.' It is an invitation-only meeting in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, one of only three nations, along with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, that recognized the Taliban regime in Afghanistan....
"Advertised speakers include Karen Elliott House, publisher of the Wall Street Journal; David Ignatius of the Washington Post; Ed Bradley of CBS and 60 Minutes; Barbara Slavin of USA Today; Pat Mitchell, President and CEO of the Public Broadcasting Service; Matthew Winkler, editor-in-chief of Bloomberg News; and Jim Kelly, managing editor of Time magazine. 'Proud Sponsors' include Reader's Digest, CNBC, and Al-Arabiya television....
"The conference program also features a 'spotlight' on Prince al-Waleed bin Talal, described as 'one of the world's most influential investors.' That is certainly the case. He has just accumulated a significant financial interest in a major American medium that is trusted by conservatives—News Corporation, parent of Fox News Channel....
"Bakr Mohammad Bin Laden, general director of the Bin Laden Group in Saudi Arabia, a construction company based in Saudi Arabia, is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Arab Thought Foundation.
"Despite the popular notion that Osama bin Laden is the black sheep of the family, the bin Laden Group, three Saudi princes and the government of Sudan have been sued by 9/11 Families United to Bankrupt Terrorism for allegedly bankrolling al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden and the Taliban."
6:07 P.M. Addendum from the December 13, 2005 Washington Post article about the Saudi prince's gift to Georgetown University:
"'As you know, since the 9/11 events, the image of Islam has been tarnished in the West,' said Alwaleed, who is chairman of the Riyadh-based Kingdom Holding Co. and has extensive business holdings in Europe and the United States.My prediction: Georgetown University will become an Islamic apologist center with significant impact as it burnishes the image of Islam, thanks to the influx of Saudi dollars.
"He said his gifts to Georgetown and Harvard will be used 'to teach about the Islamic world to the United States,' and the new programs at American University in Beirut and American University in Cairo will 'teach the Arab world about the American situation.'
"The $20 million gift to Georgetown is the second-largest ever received by the Jesuit-run university, school officials said. It will be used to expand the activities of the university's 12-year-old Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding.
"'We are deeply honored by Prince Alwaleed's generosity,' said a statement from Georgetown President John J. DeGioia, who met Alwaleed Nov. 7 in a Paris hotel to sign documents formalizing the donation....
"The Georgetown center, part of the university's School of Foreign Service, will be renamed the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding. The $20 million will endow three faculty chairs, expand programs and academic outreach, provide scholarships for students and expand library facilities, Alwaleed said.
"Center director John L. Esposito said in an interview that 'a significant part of the money will be used to beef up the think tank part of what the center does.'
"Up to now, he said, the center has not had enough resources 'to respond to the tremendous demand that is out there, from the government, church and religious groups, the media and corporations to address and answer issues like, "What is the actual relationship between the West and the Muslim world? Is Islam compatible with modernization?" Now we can run workshops and conferences [on these subjects] both here and overseas.'
"When asked about the comments that caused the rejection of Alwaleed's gift to New York, Esposito said: 'There is nothing wrong with his expressing his opinion on American foreign policy. Clearly, it was done in a constructive way. He was expressing his enormous sympathy with the United States but also trying to give people the context in which this [terrorist attack] occurred.'"