“Testimonies” from an Iraqi minister bring the “Islamic University” scandal back to the fore

The appointment of Naim al-Aboudi as Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research in the new Iraqi government has sparked controversy on social networks, for reasons related to his educational attainment.

Al-Aboudi was a member of the Parliament – the fourth session of the “Sadiquon” bloc, which represented the pro-Iranian “Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq” militia.

According to the package of biographies of the ministers of the government of the new Iraqi Prime Minister, Muhammad Shia’ al-Sudani, al-Aboudi has two doctorates in Arabic language and a master’s degree in human rights from the Islamic University of Lebanon, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kufa. His biography did not include a reference to the dates he obtained those certificates.

The Islamic University was a link in the scandal of falsifying academic degrees, which was revealed by the Lebanese Al-Modon newspaper last November, and said that a number of Iraqi officials were involved.

In response to the scandal of forged certificates, the Iraqi Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research decided to “suspend studies in the following three Lebanese universities: (Modern University of Administration and Science, Islamic University of Lebanon, and Jinan University) , not complying with the standards of scientific sobriety in accordance with the law of foundations for the equivalence of Arab certificates and degrees.” And the foreigner No. (20) for the year 2020,” according to what was published by the Iraqi News Agency in November 2021.

In November 2021, Higher Education summoned the cultural attaché in Beirut in the context of investigations into the awarding of fake degrees to Lebanese universities in exchange for money to hundreds of Iraqis. According to the newspaper Al-Modon’s report, the number of postgraduate certificates obtained by Iraqis from Lebanon “in an improper and suspicious manner” amounted to “about 27,000 certificates”.

Obtaining a master’s degree at these universities costs between five and six thousand dollars, and a doctorate is ten thousand dollars, according to the newspaper.

In response to Al-Aboudi’s appointment, this tweeter wrote on Saturday: “One of the wonders of Iraq is that the new Minister of Higher Education has a PhD from the Lebanese Islamic University, which the Ministry of Higher Education revoked recognition of last year .”

In response to Al-Hurra’s inquiries, Muhammad Al-Kinani, director of public relations at the Iraqi Al-Ahed channel, which is close to “Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq,” said: “The doctorate that Al-Aboudi holds , has been registered and recognized by the official scientific authorities in Iraq.”

Referring to the decision of the Iraqi “higher education” not to recognize the degrees of these universities, Al-Kinani said that the decision “came years after Al-Aboudi obtained his degree and registered it in Iraq.” and pointed out that “many political leaders have degrees from this university and their degrees are registered and recognized.” .

The president of the Supreme Court Council has a thesis from the Islamic University of Lebanon.

and Secretary General of the Council of Ministers in the government of former Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kazemi, with his thesis at the Lebanese Islamic University.

According to an AFP report published on November 18, Lebanese media reported that the Islamic University, which is affiliated with the Supreme Shiite Council in Lebanon, fired its president and four department heads after the fraud scandal was revealed.

Muhannad Al-Kinani did not specify the date when Al-Aboudi earned his two degrees at the Islamic University, saying he earned a doctorate “before entering Parliament in 2018.”

A copy of the CV of the new minister of higher education, Naeem Al-Aboudi, and it does not show the years of his postgraduate degrees.

Naeem Al-Aboudi

Tweeters republished a tweet linked to a TV interview that Mr. included Naeem Al-Aboudi and author Ghaleb Al-Shabandar.

In an interview conducted yesterday, Friday, on the nature of the government’s composition, the researcher and political analyst, Haitham Al-Hiti, told Al-Hurra that the choice of ministers is a “bitter and frustrating reality in Iraq” and indicates what will happen in the next phase.

And the Iraqi Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research has recognized only two Lebanese universities, the American University of Beirut and the Lebanese American University, according to the “Directory of Private Alimony Universities 2022/23”.

Will Iraq change its stance on universities accused of forgery?

The author, political analyst Kamel Al-Hassani, does not rule out that the new Minister of Higher Education in Iraq will once again “recognize these universities and the certificates they issue, especially for those who want to use them inside Iraq.” These certificates are “not recognized outside of Iraq.”

Al-Hassani believes that Minister Al-Aboudi “is no different from some officials who obtained degrees from non-recognized universities, only to identify himself as a ‘doctor’ and possess an academic degree.”

The writer and political analyst Aqil Abbas agrees with Al-Hassani’s view and points out: “The function of these undisciplined universities is to give politicians, especially Shiite Islamists, a fast track to academic prestige that they use politically take.”

Abbas does not rule out that the new minister will recognize these universities again, but not before things stabilize for the new government.

“The coordinating framework politicians who take over power will this time be more careful not to provoke the prospective public who want to seize on mistakes,” Abbas continues. “These files will not be opened quickly, perhaps at a time when the public is preoccupied with a political or economic issue, such matters may pass.” .

Al-Hassani pointed out that one of the “heads of bodies related to law has a master’s degree and a doctorate from a university that is not originally recognized, but the law on the foundations of equivalence of Arabic and foreign scientific degrees and diplomas have been modified in recent years so that he can equate his degrees.”

In his first tweet after assuming the post of Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Al-Aboudi promised to “live up to everyone’s good expectations” and called for cooperation “in this journey that has the powers of the nation are required.”

And the author, political analyst Aqil Abbas, in his interview with the “Al-Hurra” website, mentioned that the high degree is not one of the conditions that must be met in the candidate for the post of minister in Iraq. Abbas attributes the officials’ insistence on obtaining educational degrees in this way to what he called the “technocratic complex”, as they feel, according to the analyst, that they are ideologues who lack knowledge.

However, this tweeter summarizes the description of the situation in Iraq as “black comedy”, i.e. funny and crying.

The government of Muhammad Shia al-Sudani won the confidence of the Iraqi parliament on Thursday, two weeks after it was installed and more than a year after early parliamentary elections, in a period marked by tension and political differences.

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