Tehran's Toronto franchise (updated) - Macleans.ca

Tehran’s Toronto franchise (updated)

Iranian academics demand transparency from Toronto’s Center for Iranian Studies


A Toronto-based organization that bills itself as a non-partisan NGO dedicated to Iranian scholarship and culture is non-governmental only in the sense that it has no ties to Ottawa. Tehran is a different story. The Center for Iranian Studies was founded two years ago Fazel Larijani, who was then Iran’s cultural attaché in Ottawa and is the brother of Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani, head of Iran’s judiciary. The centre  is still funded by the Iranian embassy here.

It has been aggressively reaching out to Iranian students in Toronto with promises of free Farsi classes and funds for cultural events. Some of Toronto’s most prominent Iranian academics are outraged by what they describe as its false claims to be any sort of scholarly institution, given the absence of any scholars affiliated with the place, and its lack of transparency regarding its connection to the Iranian regime.

I’ve written a more detailed article about the centre  here.

Here is the open letter signed by eight genuine Iranian scholars at Toronto universities:

12 April, 2010

It is a while that an entity calling itself the “Center for Iranian Studies” operating from a house on Sheppard avenue with the website Iranology.ca, has been active in Toronto. This Centre, with a deceptive name alluding to academic research and teaching is not known to any of the undersigned Toronto-based Iranian/Canadian academics from the city’s universities. We are not aware of any of our colleagues who are engaged in this Centre’s activities.  However, functionaries of the Centre regularly contact Iranian student groups with promises of assistance, and fund Farsi classes and/or cultural events.

As academics with expertise in various fields of scholarship on Iran we have serious concerns about the mission and the mandate of this Centre.  We demand that the Centre reveal its real mandate, post the names of the founding members as appears on the website of Industry Canada, name its officers and advisors involved in its activities, and above all disclose the sources of its funding inside or outside Canada.  The “centre” should also seriously consider changing its deceptive name, and stop deceptive postings on its website.

Signatories (in alphabetical order)

Dr. Reza Baraheni, retired professor, University of Toronto

Dr. Minoo Derayeh, Associate Professor, York University

Dr. Amir Hassanpour, retired professor, University of Toronto

Dr. Ramin Jahanbegloo, Professor, University of Toronto

Dr. Haideh Moghissi, Professor and Associate Dean, FLAPS, York University

Dr. Shahrzad Mojab, Professor and Principal, New College, University of Toronto

Dr. Saeed Rahnema, Professor, York University

Dr. Farrokh Zandi, Professor, York University

UPDATE: I spoke this morning with Soheil Parsa, the Iranian-Canadian director and actor who is included on the “Who is who?” section of the centre’s website. He told me he has never had any affiliation with the centre and has written to them to ask that they remove his bio from their website.


Tehran’s Toronto franchise (updated)

  1. you're the man, petrou.

  2. Canada needs more journalists like Petrou.

    • here here. Petrou, O'Malley and Wells and their willingness to get their hands dirty (wish Wells would do it more often) are invaluable journalistic treasures.

  3. excellent article –

  4. Go easy on the gush. Looks to me like this "bold investigative report" has two sources: a letter from a group of academics cc'd to Petrou and a web site.

    Looks phoned in to me.

    Canada is chock-a-block with dubious agencies like this. Wake me up when laws are broken.

    • Surely what Jaffer had for breakfast this morning is of much more importance to the nation.

      • Ask the editors of our fine mainstream news media that question, not me.

  5. Anybody know if Zafar Bangash's name has cropped up in this?

    • Even better: Has Richard Warman's name cropped up in this?

  6. Oh, isn't it nice that our ridiculous mass immigration policies are allowing Iran and other enemy nations to establish beachheads in Canada?

    Why Mass Immigration?
    1) To increase the dangers of terrorism from within Canada?
    2) To flood Canada with cheap labour , making it harder for Canadians to find work and drive down wages?
    3) So that Canada comes to be dominated by disfunctional cultures where human rights do not exist? Where women are 2nd class citizens and homosexuals are ruthlessly persecuted?
    4) To needlessly grow our population base and contribute to the urban sprawl that is destroying our farm land and forested land?

    THINK ABOUT IT. Then, please share this message with your friends and relatives.

    Useful websites: http://www.immigrationwatchcanada.org http://www.vdare.com http://www.jihadwatch.org

    • Jack, I'm really enjoying the link one of those sites make between KFC and Holy War on Christianity!!!

      Those stories are almost as good as the ones in The Onion. You guys are doing a bang-up job of satirizing the entire whacko right. Just be careful though, if you don't turn down "the stupid" a bit, people might think you're being serious.