Harvard returns Arab leader's gift

Funds intended for Islamic studies
After more than a year of debate and negotiation, Harvard Divinity School has agreed to return a gift from a leader of the United Arab Emirates, at the Arab nation’s request. Sheikh Zayed Al Nahyan had given a $2.5 million gift, which the school accepted in 2000, to establish a professorship of Islamic religious studies at the school.

A group of students and professors had complained in March 2003 to Dean William A. Graham, a scholar of Islam, about the UAE-based Zayed Center for Coordination and Follow-up, which was named for the sheikh and which critics said featured anti-Semitic writings and anti-American material.

In the wake of the comments, and the report of an independent researcher hired by the school to look deeper into the center’s activities, divinity school officials considered whether to return the gift.

 

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