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Oxford defends establishment of Neda Agha-Soltan scholarship

Neda Agha-Soltan

Oxford defends dead Iranian protester scholarship
LONDON (AFP) - Oxford University on Wednesday defended a decision to set up a scholarship in honour of a young Iranian woman shot dead during a protest against disputed elections, which has enraged Tehran.

Oxford said the decision to award the scholarship had been taken by Queen's College and was solely a matter for the college, which has autonomous status within the university's structure.

Radio Zamaneh - Iranian Embassy in Britain criticized University of Oxford's establishment of a scholarship in the name of Neda Agha-Soltan, the young woman who was shot to death in the post-election events in Iran.

Neda Agha-Soltan who became a symbol of Iranian people's protests against the alleged injustice in the elections and their general demand for reform in their country, was shot on the streets of Tehran during government crackdown on mass demonstrations. The last moments of the young philosophy student, that were captured on a cell phone camera and posted on You Tube, were viewed by people all across the world.

Oxford University's Queen's College announced that "two generous" gifts have allowed it to establish the Neda Agha-Soltan graduate scholarship in the philosophy department. The scholarship is open to all, but Iranians will be given priority for it.

AFP reports that the letter from Iranian embassy states that Oxford University's actions are "politically motivated." They maintain that giving a scholarship in the name of "a murdered Iranian woman" who was killed in "a complicated pre-planned scenario" is established to attract Iranian students.

The letter goes on to say that "It seems University of Oxford has involved itself in a criminal file the dimensions of which remain under investigation by the security forces of the Islamic Republic."

Iranian embassy maintains that "The involvement of Oxford University in Iran's internal affairs, especially in the post-election events that British media had a major role in, has tarnished the academic reputation and educational objectives of the University."

The Iranian establishment has tried to deny responsibility for the death of Neda Agha-Soltan which moved people all across the world. Her death has been called "suspicious" by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and even hardliner, Ahmad Khatami has claimed the election protesters were the perpetrators of her death.

Neda Agha-Soltan Graduate Scholarship
Source: Queen's College, Oxford University

Bust of Neda "Angel of Freedom" by Paula Slater

The College is delighted to announce that, thanks to two generous gifts, it has been able to establish a graduate scholarship in Philosophy in memory of Neda Agha-Soltan, the 27-year-old Iranian philosophy student who was killed in Tehran on 20 June during the protests over the outcome of the 2009 Iranian presidential election.

Commenting on the scholarship, the Provost, Professor Paul Madden, said, 'Oxford is increasingly losing out to its competitors in the race to recruit top graduate students. Donations such as those that have enabled us to create the Neda Agha-Soltan Scholarship are absolutely vital for us to continue to attract and retain the best young minds.'

The scholarship provides the amount of money required to pay the College's graduate fee. All students accepted by the College for the M.St., B.Phil. or D.Phil. in Philosophy are eligible for consideration for the Scholarship, but preference is given to those of Iranian nationality or extraction.

The first holder of the scholarship is Arianne Shahvisi, who has just joined the College and is studying for an M.St. in the Philosophy of Physics. Arianne writes that 'It is a great honour to be the first student to receive the scholarship in the memory of Neda Agha-Soltan, which is particularly meaningful to me, being a young woman of Iranian descent, also studying philosophy. In accepting the scholarship, I extend my sincere condolences to the Agha-Soltan family, and hope that in succeeding in my studies at Oxford, I can do justice to the name of their brave and gifted daughter.'

Neda's mother in mourning

... Payvand News - 11/11/09 ... --

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