Minister of Science, Research, and Technology: Belief in Position of Supreme Leader Must be Prerequisite for Scholarships
Regime Signals Continued Purge of Academic Institutions
Mehr News – Summary translation by Persia House
February 3, 2010
During a meeting with deans of universities and heads of research centers, Iran’s Minister of Science, Research, and Technology, Kamran Daneshjou, noted that, when selecting members of scientific councils, Iranian universities should select individuals who believe in Iran’s Islamic system of government. Universities should also ensure that believing in the rule of the jurist [Supreme Leadership] is a practical prerequisite for obtaining academic scholarships. With regards to identifying suitable candidates for scientific councils, Daneshjou contended that even Western universities set employment conditions when hiring faculty, including belief in the idea of liberal democracy and refraining from questioning the Holocaust. By the same token, Iranian universities must hire individuals who believe in Islamic values, as the goal is for students to gain both knowledge and morality.
Speaking of the need to revise university textbooks, Daneshjou said that, when teaching Western
ideologies, university professors must also present their students with critiques of those ideologies. They must also be very familiar with the ideas and teachings of Islamic scholars, and be ready to present those ideas to their students as well.
He added that, although the Ministry is not planning to segregate the universities by gender, it will permit non-profit institutions of higher learning to be single-gender institutions in order to fulfill the needs of society. If there is a need for all-male or all-female schools, there will be no problem with having single-gender schools similar to Imam Sadegh and Imam Hossein Universities, which have performed well to date.
Daneshjou noted that, although universities are independent in their administrative affairs, they must nonetheless conform to the government’s general policies, the Constitution, national interests, and public welfare. For the original article in Persian, click here.
Persia House Analysis:
As part of its continued efforts to seize the initiative in the battle of ideas (the soft war), the Iranian government is intensifying its pressure on students and university faculty members who support the opposition Green Movement. If approved, the proposals referred to by Daneshjou could be used by the government to purge student bodies and faculty members. While it is unclear how individuals are to prove their loyalty to the regime, the security establishment does monitor closely Iranians’ online activities, including their posts on social networking sites like Facebook.
Despite ongoing government crackdowns, Iranian universities continue to be hotbeds of opposition activity and anti-Ahmadinejad demonstrations. Hardliners accuse the Green Movement’s supporters of being anti-Islamic Republic and against the idea of a Supreme Leader.
Daneshjou’s proposal appears to be both punitive and preventive in nature. These rules would, in effect, enable the government to prevent Reformists, or those with alleged Reformist leanings, from obtaining university faculty positions; they would also disqualify suitable candidates for membership in scientific councils, and prevent pro-Reformist students from obtaining academic scholarships. The new requirements would also be punitive in that the government would be able to remove current members of scientific councils deemed to be not in compliance, and cancel the scholarships of pro-Reformist students.
This is reminiscent of the Iranian government’s Cultural Revolution in the early 1980s, when the newly established Islamic Republic closed down all universities for several years in order to purge and “Islamicize” them. The regime revised university textbooks significantly and purged campuses of “un-Islamic” and “non-conformist” elements (liberal democrats, nationalists, leftists, communists, and monarchists). A large number of university teachers and students were either jailed, executed, sent to the war front, dismissed, forced to retire, compelled to cooperate with authorities, or forced to emigrate from the country.
Mehr is a semiofficial news agency based in Tehran. Its managing director, Parviz Esmaeili also publishes the English-language Tehran Times.