Sunday, September 11, 2005

Iran: Ten university chancellors resign in protest

Iran Focus: a pro-MEK website
The chancellors of ten of Iran’s prestigious universities have resigned in protest against the policies of the new radical Islamist government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The chancellors of the universities of Shiraz, Tabriz, Isfahan, Orumieh, Mashad, the Industrial University of Isfahan, and Tehran’s Teachers Training College handed in their resignation since the appointment Mohammad-Mehdi Zahedi, a radical Islamist, as the new Minister of Science, Research and Technology.

Zahedi, 51, was previously chairman of the City Council in Kerman, southern Iran, and a former professor of mathematics in the University of Shahid Bahonar in Kerman. He garnered the lowest number of votes during his confirmation in Majlis, the Iranian Parliament. His close-shave vote tally – only two votes above the cut-line, became a controversial issue, as many Majlis deputies accused the dominant hard-line faction of cheating to get Zahedi confirmed.

The minister has also come under scrutiny after it was discovered that his doctorate degree and much of his academic qualifications were obtained through improper channels. Zahedi’s official biography lists him as having been named “Top Mathematician of the World” by Cambridge Centre in Britain. It was later disclosed that Zahedi had never set foot in Cambridge University, and that the ritzy award had in fact been “bought” from a private institute. READ MORE

University professors and senior academics fear that Zahedi’s radical policies will only exacerbate the already gruelling tensions in Iran’s universities.

It was already very tough to manage the campus before all this,” said Dr. Goudarz Sadeghi, who resigned his post in Orumieh University to take up a teaching job in Tehran University. Now, it’s just going to be impossible”.

Mahmoud Afkhami, a sociologist who teaches in several universities in Tehran, said Zahedi was widely despised among Iran’s academics, who see him as a radical Islamist who owes his rise to complete loyalty to the country’s religious rulers.

What we need is people who understand our young students and their demands and their frustration in the current system”, said Afkhami. “Ahmadinejad and his team are only going to make things worse”.