The Australian has been pumping out stories all week about how Griffith University’s Islamic Research Unit (GIRU) could well become a Saudi-style Pakistani madressa after receiving a donation of $100,000 from the Saudi Kingdom.

I pointed out some of the hypocrisies and absurdities in reporting by The Oz on the issue in yesterday’s Canberra Times. You won’t find the article on the CT website, though you can read it here.

Naturally, one would never expect the owners of The Oz to accept any money from a Royal Family who run a dictatorship with an appalling human rights record. Imagine News Corporation accepting money from members of a government apparently busy spending millions radicalising young people and turning them into terrorists. Impossible.

Well, not quite. GIRU’s $100,000 Saudi donation is around $1.25% of what it is receiving from the Federal Government as part of the establishment costs of the Centre for Excellence in Islamic Studies.

Compare this to the $400 million that Prince al-Waleed bin Talal invested in News Corporation around a decade ago. Apparently on that occasion, Mr Murdoch said the investment was “a new strategic alliance”. That investment was then increased in 2005 to the extent that the Saudi Prince owned 5.46% of voting shares.

Of course, there doesn’t appear to be any evidence that this massive influx of Saudi wahhabi money has influenced The Oz‘s reporting. Just as there is no evidence that the comparatively miniscule donation to GIRU has affected research conducted at GIRU.

So next time a journo from The Oz wants to bag GIRU for accepting Saudi money, let s/he remember that her/his employer is also a beneficiary of Saudi largesse.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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