Iranian oppressors speak on behalf of the oppressed

The Islamization of universities in Iran is causing the fast erosion of freedom of education

Women are just one group increasingly marginalised in Iran
Wahied Wahdat-Hagh
On 7 December 2012 18:09

Every year Iranian students recall the "Day of the student", which goes back to the anti-dictatorial demonstrations of December 7th, 1953. This year, the symbolic day fell on December 6th. But while many human rights-oriented students are arrested, the oppressors continue to speak on behalf of the student movement. At universities, gender discrimination against women increases. Worse still, Baha'is are not even allowed to study.

When a General plays the role of a student leader. On a day on which hundreds of students sat in Iranian prisons, General Seyyed Masoud Jasaeri, a member of the General Staff of the Iranian army and head of the Department of the Bassij, spoke with students. "The anti-imperialist discourse and the revolutionary and religious idealism always determined the student struggle against the Shah regime and its supporter, U.S. imperialism, until today," said Jasaeri, as reported by the Iranian state agency ISNA (December 6th, 2012).

Thanks to "correct analysis” the Iranian student movement would still serve national interests, the General said, claiming that the student movement is still "alive, dynamic, and effective."

Unfortunately, Jasaeri was addressing Islamist students of the Bassij organization, promising the "collapse of liberal democracy and western capitalism" and glorifying the "special front of new Islamic civilization, fighting the powers of violence at the crossroad of history.”

It is a fact that the Islamist Basij students have smashed the democratic student movement entirely with the help of the Iranian Generals. But this sad historical truth should not be understood as a sign that Islam will therefore shape the future of human history, as Islamists claim.

How the reality is perverted. Mohammad Ali Asafnani, a member of the Islamist pseudo-Parliament also volunteered to speak. He belongs to the faction of "Principialists", i.e. a particularly fundamentalist power clique. Ironically he said, "Some political movements abuse the student organizations.”

This year only pro-regime Islamic groups could speak out publicly. These Islamist students presented the struggle against Shah regime and ruled out the protests against the Islamist rulers. For example, ISNA quoted an Islamist student who praised the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. He said, “It is the leader who withstands criticism and hears in a free atmosphere the opinion of the people. State officials should take the leader as their role model, until a critical climate is created. "

The leader of revolution gives recommendations to the students. Ali Khamenei gave the Iranian students exactly 25 recommendations, as ISNA reports. Students should read the Quran and the writings of Ayatollah Motahari; they should improve their political and civic education without losing contact with other parts of society; they should share their opinions with the state apparatus and observe what Socialists and Marxists intend to do. The Iranian students were also advised to improve their contacts with Muslim students worldwide and to keep the universities morally pure.

Gender discrimination at universities. Meanwhile, the human rights organization Justice for Iran has stated that a number of subjects are now reserved only for men. Iranian women are not allowed to study at least 14 subjects with discrimination on the rise.

Baha'is are not allowed to study at the universities Baha'i academics are persecuted. The Islamist dictatorship punishes the Baha’is for their educational standards and their desire to serve Iranian society as academics. Baha’is in the "Islamic Republic of Iran" are excluded from higher education; informal initiatives for higher education for young Baha'is are systematically suppressed.

All in all, a depressing tale of the Islamization of universities and the fast erosion of freedom of education in Iran.

Wahied Wahdat-Hagh is a Senior Fellow at the European Foundation for Democracy

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