The Soviet Union, during the Cold War, invested in propaganda operations in the West to subvert capitalism and democracy. Communism found precious allies in the so-called “useful idiots” who facilitated Soviet work in academia, newspapers and publishing houses. Political Islam has been using the same convenient outlets and mechanisms to spread Islamic sharia law in the West.

The old role of Soviet propaganda has now been taken up by Islamic regimes. Qatar, for instance, is not only interested in buying large segments of Europe’s economy (Hochtief, Volkswagen, Porsche, Canary Wharf and Deutsche Bank), but also in playing a key role in Europe’s culture.

Qatar sits on the executive board of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the UN agency that has just erased 3000 years of Jewish history in Jerusalem, and has set its sights on the main chair at UNESCO: as the successor of UNESCO’s secretary general, Irina Bokova.


The favorite for this race is, in fact, the former minister of culture of Qatar from 2008 to 2016, Hamad bin Abdulaziz al Kawari, who currently serves as “cultural adviser to the Emir,” Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. In 2017, the UNESCO leadership is supposed to go to a representative of the Arab world, according to the rule of geographic rotation; Kawari will have to defeat the candidacy of a Lebanese and an Egyptian.

Kawari recently landed in Rome, apparently to start his promotional tour, and he met with its mayor, Virginia Raggi, who received the Islamic emirate’s delegation. Kawari received an honorary degree from Tor Vergata University, Rome’s second most important university. The photo of the ceremony speaks volumes about political Islam’s level of penetration in Europe’s academic culture. Abdullah Bin Hamad Al Attiyah, Qatar’s former deputy prime minister, even spoke at Tor Vergata.

Qatar’s Hamad bin Abdulaziz al Kawari (center), who serves as “cultural adviser to the Emir,” is pictured receiving an honorary degree from Rome’s Tor Vergata University last month. (Image source: Askanews video screenshot)

Kawari also had a meeting with Italy’s minister of culture, Dario Franceschini and minister of education, Stefania Giannini.

Last June, Kawari was also in the Vatican to meet with Pope Francis and sign an agreement between the Vatican Apostolic Library and the Qatar Foundation for Education. Kawari, fluent in Arabic, English and French, is an affable man of the world, at home in Paris, where he graduated from Sorbonne University; his climb to the leadership of UNESCO has the support of the rulers of the Gulf and Saudi Arabia.

Human rights organizations have already promoted a campaign to prevent Kawari from taking the UNESCO seat. Citing a vast amount of anti-Semitic material present at the Doha Book Fair, Kawari’s flagship, the Simon Wiesenthal Center launched a campaign against his candidacy. In a letter to Kawari, Shimon Samuels, Director for International Relations of the Wiesenthal Center, said the material on display every year in Doha “violates the values promoted by Unesco“.

Samuels listed at least 35 anti-Semitic titles, including nine editions of the anti-Semitic forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, four editions of Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler, and four editions of Henry Ford’s The International Jew. “From this point of view, Doha is far from Paris,” said Samuels, referring to the general headquarters of UNESCO.

Qatar is the puppeteer behind UNESCO’s anti-Semitic resolution on Jerusalem, and a world center of Islamic extremism. Doha just held a meeting between the Palestinian Authority’s leader, Mahmoud Abbas, and the heads of Hamas, a terrorist organization devoted to the destruction of the State of Israel. Qatar does not make a secret of trying to submit Western culture to the Muslim crescent. The only question is, which country’s culture will UNESCO erase next?

The Qatari royal family is now much involved in “the arts.” According to the BBC, “To take a recent example, the Qatari royal family sponsored the Tate’s Damien Hirst retrospective. It’s now moved to Doha, where Tate director Nicholas Serota attended the official launch.” Major works by Warhol, Bacon, Rothko, Koons and Hirst are all thought to have made their way to Qatar.

Qatar is buying academic chairs in Europe’s universities, such as the pact between Doha and Rome’s Tor Vergata. What is the university presumably expected to do for Qatar in exchange for that? Qatar academic purchases are also the subject of Le Monde’s investigation entitled, “Tariq Ramadan: le sphinx,” which details how Tariq Ramadan, the well-known European Muslim intellectual, was been able to obtain a chair at the University of Oxford. Mediapart, the French leftist magazine, ran a long exposé about Tariq Ramadan as “Qatar’s showcase.”

The Qatari monarchy, in 2015 alone, donated £11 million to renew Oxford’s St Antony’s College, where Tariq Ramadan works. Sheikha Moza, the wife of Emir Al Thani, inaugurated the magnificent building designed by the late architect, Zaha Hadid.

Qatar also financed the creation of an Islamic section at the Bloomsbury publishing house and the “Doha Debates” program that aired on the BBC. It would be interesting to know how Qatar’s sharia can find agreement with the sybaritic Bloomsbury’s British culture.

The attorney-general of Qatar also signed an agreement with the president of Sorbonne University, Philippe Boutry, in Paris, for the enrollment of hundreds of migrants from the Middle East. The Sorbonne accepted 600,000 euros a year, for three years.

Many British universities also receive large donations from Qatar. University College London, for example, has an archeology campus in Qatar. The Qatar Development Fund recently donated $4.3 million to the Margaret Thatcher Scholarship Trust at Oxford University.

Qatar is also having a shopping spree in American universities, and is funding their university departments in the Arabian desert. Universities such as Cornell, Carnegie Mellon, Georgetown, Texas A&M and Virginia Commonwealth have all signed agreements with Emir Al Thani. Each will receive $320 million dollars a year.

Students of American Universities based in Doha are also invited to attend the sermons of Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the spiritual mentor of the Muslim Brotherhood, who is known for his hate-ridden religious edicts. The Simon Wiesenthal Center has called it “outrageous” for Cornell University to decide to open a campus in Doha while the kingdom funds Hamas’s war against Israel.

The Financial Times once called Qatar “the world’s most aggressive deal hunter.” Emir Al Thani is now promoting a takeover of Western culture. But very few in Europe seem to care about that. Is it because “it is difficult to avoid its money and influence“, especially for an economically depressed Europe? With their telling silence, are they simply aligning with Qatar’s sharia rulers, and hoping they will chosen to be bought out next?

Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.