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Heads of 69 Iranian universities air concerns about future of science in Iran

The heads of 69 Iranian universities, colleges scientific and research centers issued a communique Monday voicing their deep concerns about the future of science in the country, IRNA reported from Tehran.

The university presidents criticized the rejection of a bill aimed at implementing structural reforms in the ministry of science, research and technology.

Minister of Science, Research and Technology Dr. Moin submitted a letter of resignation to President Khatami on July 24 partly due to the same reason, but the president has still to give his response.

When the bill was rejected by the Guardians Council, Moin requested President Khatami to ask for its return to the science ministry from parliament and thereafter submitted his letter of resignation.

In their communique, the university heads referred to the painstaking process of preparing the contents of the bill and its subsequent rejection by the esteemed Guardian's Council, noting that it had the full support of the people's deputies in parliament.

"That bill was prepared keeping in mind the country's urgent need to keep up with the pace of scientific development in the world which the Supreme Leader of the Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khomeni and President Khatami have invariably stressed on various occasions in the past," read the communique.

"The esteemed members of the Guardians Council find the responsibility for enforcing the provisions of such a bill to be within the duties of the Leader and, therefore, against current jurisprudence and the Constitution...and found many articles of the bill to be within the domain of the duties of the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution which is under the supervision of the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution," it said.

"The Guardians Council found the bill to be defective on 35 counts and therefore rejected it."

The university heads further referred to the many occasions when the bill was moved from parliament to the GC and vice-versa which all proved to be futile, and the science minister's suggestion of having the Leader solve the problem. In fact, the Supreme Leader did order a special committee to be formed to study the bill and make the necessary recommendation, the communique went on to say.

The committee, mindful of the conflicting views of the esteemed Guardians Council and members of parliament, discussed the issue with both, but failed to come up with an acceptable solution and the esteemed science minister was thus forced to submit his resignation," pointed out the communique.

It further argued that the fact that the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution is constitutionally responsible for formulating policies relative to the overall functioning of universities does not mean the esteemed Guardians Council should give it priority over the science ministry in dealing with the executive affairs of universities.

The communique also found untenable the GC's reasoning that since the bill does not exclude universities run by the armed forces which are under the direct supervision of the Supreme Leader, it would amount to a direct interference on his duties.

"First of all, those universities could have easily been excluded and, if they were not, what is wrong with their inclusion so they can function within the framework of the rules and regulations of the country's other universities?" asked the university heads, who feel their views are closer to the guiding spirit behind universities as gleaned from the constitution.

The university heads also drew the attention of GC members to the fact that their narrow interpretation of jurisprudence and the constitution could totally defeat the spirit and process of enacting laws in the country.

"Furthermore, since arguments for or against a bill are supposed to be based on religious jurisprudence, such interpretations could, God forbid, lead to weakening of the strong pillars of religion in this country and even to annihilation of its validity as well as the strong foundations of the constitution that are the fruits of decades of struggle of this Muslim nation backed up by the sacred blood of martyrs of the Islamic Revolution," argued the university heads.

Dr. Moin, the communique said, was forced into resigning after losing all hope of being able to materialize the reforms that he envisioned for his ministry and the loss of prestige of universities and students arising from the way they have been treated in recent years.

"Although both reasons would be enought to justify his quitting the job, we would also like to make a few points in this respect," the university heads continued.

Recalling the long years of sincere and dedicated service rendered Dr. Moin in the country's administrative and scientific affairs, they expressed deep sorrow over his resignation and urged that the minister who will be appointed in his stead would have the capacity to continue with his goals and push through the most urgent reforms envisioned in the bill that he painstakingly prepared to ensure the country's scientific development.

The communique also alluded to the mistreatment of students that has become a national issue. "The wrong methods applied in dealing with the university students and the violation of the sanctity of universities have both been a cause of deep concern in the past but have unfortunately remained more or less the same up to now.

"The treatment with which students have been subjected would undoubtedly result in huge national losses which call for decisive action to end such methods."

In conclusion, the university heads alluded to the real crisis facing the country's universities at present.

"The irresponsible attitude that sanctions irresponsible moves creating various crises are aimed at disheartening the real friends and servants of the Islamic Revolution by those who would pretend to safeguard the religion and the revolution but are in fact promoting their own personal interests," it warned.

... Payvand News - 8/5/03 ... --

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