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Qatari liberally funds US schools and colleges to sow seeds of extremism in young minds




Qatar, a tiny gulf nation with abundant financial resources, has been investing heavily in the education sector. Qatar is not only funding educational institutions at home but also in US. Doha is actively promoting Arabic learning programs in over 20 US public schools and in about 10 US colleges. The funds are transferred through a non-profit organisation called Qatar Foundation (QF).

QFI LLC (Qatar Foundation International LLC) is the US-based subsidiary of Qatar Foundation. It was founded in 2012 , a year after Qatar launched the WISE Prize, considered equivalent to the Nobel prize of the education sector. It is worth $500,000 (£319,000).

Qatar is using its gas and oil income to stay ahead of the curve. Well, at the surface, investing in educational institutions seem all fine and noble. But for the nation with a track record of supporting Islamist extremist factions such as Muslim Brotherhood, putting huge funds in education sector sounds like a plan with a bigger mission. Cynics call it an air-brushed philanthropy done to indoctrinate the impressionable minds.

It is relatively easy to track illegal transfer of funds, weapons and even terrorists, but its hard to track and prevent extremist activities done in the name of education, culture, and heritage. Qatar very well knows the strength of soft power over military might for it has invested profusely in establishing cultural centers across the world, mainly targeting Europe and America. These centres, propagating extremist ideologies, helped Qatar achieve a staggering amount of influence over different nations. A paper published by David B. Roberts claimed that the state with the population of Plano, Texas managed to play a significant role during the Arab Spring in the entire region, through ‘soft power’.

Now the nation has moved towards capturing younger minds as it targets K-12 public schools. About its expansion in US, QFI LLC spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation, “QFI grants for schools, students and teachers support education in Arabic language and about the Arab world.  They are designed to enable students to become engaged with 21st century skills and global competency, and support programs that reach more than 3,200 students in the US and Europe.”

“We are going to definitely look at ways to expand in the future,” said Omran Hamad Al-Kuwari, executive director of the Qatar Foundation’s CEO office. “We’ve been quite surprised about the interest.”

According to the data published by Wall Street Journal, Arabic was the second most spoken language, after Spanish, among students who learn English as a second language at US public schools, in 2017. The data also showed that the percentage of Arabic speakers in US grew much faster than any other top foreign languages.

Some have praised foundation’s efforts while some have raised concerns over the organisations’ (QFI) ties with Qatar royalty. According to some, the foundation is run by the Qatar royals as one its co-founders is Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, the mother of Qatar’s emir, Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.

The QF, which doesn’t reveal the source of its fundings, made its first funding to US public schools in the 2009-10 amounting to $625,000. The organization gave $5.5 million in 2014-15, $3.2 million in 2016-2017, and $3.8 million in 2017-18 school year.

In 2018, the National Review reported interesting bits of QF’s ‘propaganda syllabus’.

According to the National Review,“[Qatar Foundation] schools and mosques often host the most virulently radical Islamist preachers, including one who referred to the 9/11 attacks as a ‘comedy film,’ another who said that Jews bake Passover matzah with human blood (‘believing that this brings them close to their false god’), and a third who accused the Shia of ‘poisoning’ and ‘sorcery,’” It added that the Israel was not mentioned in Qatar’s official government policy and maps of Israeli territory were labeled “Palestine”.


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