Statue of Harvard University's first benefactor, John Harvard, in Harvard Yard
Statue of Harvard University's first benefactor, John Harvard, in Harvard Yard Bryan Sneider/Reuters

Harvard University is employing a "visiting scholar" from Iran, who firmly backs the regime in Tehran and has warned against the "Jewish threat" in the past, revealed Washington Free Beacon on Thursday.

Ali Akbar Alikhani is an associate professor at the University of Tehran's Faculty of World Studies, and currently he is teaching for a year as a visiting scholar at Harvard's Center for Middle Eastern Studies.

At Harvard he is working on a project focused on "peace and peaceful coexistence in Islam" - but his previous work has indicated he has anything but peaceful feelings regarding Israel and Judaism.

The Faculty of World Studies at the University of Tehran is closely linked to the Iranian regime that has frequently threatened Israel with annihilation, and the faculty has backed scholars directly teaching the regime's ideology.

Washington Free Beacon contacted Harvard repeatedly for comment about Alikhani's employment as a visiting scholar, but media officials from the prestigious Ivy League school did not see fit to respond to any of the queries.

The news site revealed that Alikhani's academic work has frequently condemned Israel while sticking closely to the Iranian regime's party line.

He published an 11-page review in Farsi of a book in Arabic entitled "The Jewish Threat - Danger to Christianity and Islam," which the Washington Free Beacon partially translated.

According to the visiting Harvard scholar the book on the "Jewish threat" was "strong and good," and he detailed that the book works to "show the quality and the method of the Jewish threat."

"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," added Alikhani.

Harvard gives "credibility to extremists"

In another 19-page academic article he wrote on Zionism that was translated by the site, Alkhani backed criticism of the Jewish state because it is "a country that from its inception was based on force, coercion, and oppression of others."

He claimed that "the Jewish dissidents of Zionism" are actually "propagandistic exploitations" invented by the "Jewish government" to "pretend that Israel is a free country," in an awkward criticism of critics of Israel.

Alikhani's paper cited a number of controversial academics including Roger Garaudy, a Communist French philosopher who converted to Islam and who gained infamy for his open Holocaust denial. When Garaudy died in 2012 the Iranian regime commemorated him.

Washington Free Beacon exposed other works by Alkhani, including one praising the Tunisian Islamist leader Rachid Ghannouchi who has advocated violence against Jews and leads the Ennahda Party which is said to have ties with Hamas. Back in 2011 Ghannouchi predicted the end of Israel.

In response to news of Alkhani's employment of Harvard, Americans for Peace and Tolerance research director Sam Westrop told the news site that the school is giving credence to the Iranian regime, the leading state sponsor of terror in the world.

"Time after time, Western institutions lend academic credibility and a platform to extremists who operate unchallenged through the guise of interfaith dialogue," said Westrop.

"By legitimizing a die-hard regime supporter like Alikhani as a voice of Shia Islam, Harvard is betraying the thousands of authentically moderate Iranian Muslims working to free their faith from the tyranny of the violent Iranian theocracy," he said.

The news site contacted Alikhani directly for comment, and he responded by defending his employment at Harvard via email.

"My research area always has been on political thought in Islam and (the) Islamic world. In recent years, I am focusing on peace and peaceful coexistence in Islam. My research project at Harvard is The Islamic Model of peaceful Coexistence. I have never work (sic) on Judaism or leadership," wrote Alikhani.

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