Iranian Americans and Jewish Americans gathered in Oberlin, Ohio over the weekend to protest the continued employment of Oberlin College and Conservatory professor with ties to Iran.
Mohammad Jafar Mahallati, who teaches Islamic studies at the college, served as Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations from 1987 to 1989 where he is alleged to have covered up the mass murder of political prisoners in the Islamic Republic.
The protest against Mahallati electrified the Iranian diaspora, as a direct action against a former top official of the Islamic Republic who has been leading a largely insulated life on the rustic Oberlin campus.
Lawdan Bazargan, an Iranian American human rights activist, has spearheaded the campaign to oust Mahallati. She told JNS, “Our campaign started with a simple request: Fire Mahallati, who denied the mass killings of our loved ones and shielded those responsible from accountability.”
Hamid Charkhkar, a member of AAIRIA, revealed that Mahallati is on the editorial board of Sepehr-e-Siasat, an academic journal tied to Iran’s regime. Charkhkar told JNS that Mohammad Bagher Khorramshad, Iran’s deputy interior minister for political affairs and a member of the U.S.-sanctioned Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, is also on the editorial board.
Susannah Johnston, an investigative reporter for Focus on Western Islamism, reported last week on Mahallati’s affiliation with Sepehr-e-Siasat. After the publication of her article, Mahallati’s name was scrubbed from the journal. Sepehr-e-Siasat promoted an article praising Hezbollah, wrote Johnston. The United States, Israel, and scores of other countries have classified Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.
Oberlin College investigated Mahallat last year. “The inquiry did not find proof to corroborate the allegations that professor Mahallati knew of the atrocities at the time he was asked about them during his tenure at the United Nations,” wrote the college on its website.
AAIRIA said the college’s inquiry was rigged because it was not independent and transparent. The college has refused to publish its full report on Mahallati.