A national uproar over an Arab company buying some U.S. port operations forced cancellation of the deal. But when a controversial Saudi Prince spends $40 million to promote himself and his views through two major U.S. universities and takes out a two-page ad in the Washington Post highlighting his efforts, hardly anyone in the media bats an eyelid. Perhaps that’s because the Saudi Prince, Alwaleed Bin Talal, is an investor in U.S. media companies like Time Warner and News Corporation.
It might look hypocritical for the media to highlight his manipulation of academia while staying mum about his expanding press operations. Perhaps many of our Big Media companies are anxious for giant infusions of Arab oil dollars.
Alwaleed is expanding in the media field, having announced the launch of an Islamic satellite channel “to project Islam as a religion of moderation and tolerance.”
The two-page ad in the Post carried the headline, “We share the same world” and promoted the “Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Islamic Studies Program” at Harvard University and the “Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding” at Georgetown University. He gave them the money. They named the places after him.
But was there a hidden message in part of the ad?
The ad caught the attention of Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, who noted that it “shows one of Georgetown’s beautiful Gothic buildings, topped by a stone cross. In the night sky, above Georgetown, is a crescent moon and star-the symbols of Islam. How better to show the kind of ‘understanding’ we will have? Christianity is to be subordinated, Islam is raised high-at a Christian university.”
But there’s another matter. Perkins asked, “There is no reciprocity here. All the talk on this side of the ocean is about ‘understanding.’ Where are the study centers at Saudi universities? Does anyone there present courses on James Madison’s views of religious liberty? Does anyone there even suggest that feudal monarchies that deny their people fundamental human rights need to reform themselves? Saudi Arabia is one of the worst violators of human rights on earth. No Christian can even carry a Bible on any street in Saudi Arabia. Converts there are beheaded.”
Meanwhile, in France, Alwaleed spent $20 million to create a special exhibition space for the new department of Islamic arts at the Mus?e du Louvre in Paris. On March 1 he was bestowed the medal of “Legion of Honor,” with the rank of Commander, by French President Jacques Chirac in an official ceremony.
His biography, published by Harper Collins (a News Corp. company) and simply titled Alwaleed, is written by Riz Khan, who also wrote and produced a flattering documentary DVD about the prince that is included with the book. A former CNN journalist, Kahn is now with Al-Jazeera International, the new English-language arm of the Qatar-based channel that has documented links to Al-Qaeda and previously served as a mouthpiece for the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq.
In the book, Alwaleed says he gave $500,000 to the Council on American Islamic Relations, the group that specializes in getting conservatives kicked off the radio if they criticize Islam. Michael Graham was fired from WMAL in Washington, D.C. for offending CAIR.
Now how “understanding” is that?