Monday, July 28, 2008

Islamization of Universities under Mesbah Yazdi's Guidance

Minister of Education Announcement:
A year after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claimed that the general atmosphere of ‎Iranian universities is “governed by secularism,” the ninth administration’s education ‎minister and several other figures close to the cabinet announced progress in the plan to ‎‎“Islamicize” universities under the guidance of ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi and institutions ‎affiliated with him. ‎
In recent years, radical right-wingers and especially Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have ‎repeatedly attacked universities for being “un-Islamic.” On one occasion, while speaking ‎to a group of university students, Ahmadinejad denounced Iran’s modern education ‎system for being ruled by secularism in the past 150 years, and called on students to help ‎him revamp the country’s educational system. A few months after Ahmadinejad's ‎remarks, ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, who directs the Imam Khomeini Education and ‎Research Institute, blamed weak planning in the country's affairs as well as conditions in ‎universities while meeting with central committee members of the Imam Khomeini ‎Relief Foundation (Komiteh Emdad Imam Khomeini), noting, “these universities don’t ‎teach students anything other than how to badmouth the regime and at times even Islam.” ‎
Now, following a plan devised by Mesbah Yazdi's organization, recent reports reveal that ‎the education minister is attempting to fully Islamicize universities. At the beginning of ‎the week, education minister Mohammad Mehdi Zahedi, who was attending the tenth ‎grand conference of Basiji university lecturers from across the country in Mashhad ‎alongside Ahmadinejad, commented on the administration’s plans to Islamicize ‎universities: “Currently, several research institutes such as the Imam Khomeini Education ‎and Research Institute [directed by extremist cleric Mesbah Yazdi] are working on this ‎issue. The cost of the plan is not important for us, because it is the end result that matters ‎to us.” ‎
Denying any knowledge of the new “forced retirement of university professionals” the ‎education minister announced that many Basiji professors had joined the country's ‎institutions of higher education since the beginning of the tenth administration in 2005. ‎Zahedi said, “In the past three years, many university presidents have been replaced, and ‎most of new presidents are either members of the Basij or have shown with their actions ‎that they are committed to and supportive of the administration.” ‎
While those close to the Ahmadinejad administration identify “Islamicizing universities” ‎as the “ninth administration’s concern,” universities are under pressure through the ‎summons and detention of students, as well as dismissal, removal or forced retirement of ‎prominent professors. ‎
Last Saturday, Morteza Aghatehrani, who is known as the “cabinet’s ethics teacher” and ‎is currently serving as Tehran's representative in the eighth Majlis, noted, “our concern is ‎to Islamicize universities,” adding, “the universities' committed students are not satisfied ‎with the culture and image of university.” A few days prior, commenting on content of ‎university textbooks, Aghatehrani had said, “university textbooks are neither native nor ‎Islamic.” ‎
According to Ketabnews website, this pro-administration cleric who is now a member of ‎the Majlis education and research committee also claimed during last Thursday’s speech ‎at a conference that “social sciences taught in the country’s universities are western and ‎originated in the West.” ‎
In recent weeks, many prominent figures closely associated with the administration have ‎lamented the un-Islamic character of Iranian universities. Minister of Culture and Islamic ‎Guidance Saffar Harandi, compared in a speech the “Cultural Revolution” of 1980 with ‎today’s events, saying, “At that time, our revolutionary students believed that pre-‎revolutionary studies should not be taught to students by the same professors who were ‎the theoreticians of the old regime. We don’t want our universities to be the breeding ‎grounds of forces opposed to God and his religion.” ‎

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