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Ahmadinejad Afraid of Speaking at Tehran University

By Jalal Kayhanmanesh, Rooz Online

While not all universities across Iran have officially begun their academic year, the news of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's plan to speak at the country's most prestigious institution of higher education, Tehran University, led to a united response from its students in rejecting the disputedly elected president by chants of "Death to the Dictator," and "Coup Government Must Resign."

Protests also broke out at Sharif University of Technology in Tehran

As students are busy selecting their university courses, the news came on Sunday evening that Ahmadinejad would speak at Tehran University's main library on the occasion of the new academic year. As soon as this news broke out, people around the campus in Tehran noticed that a security atmosphere prevailed around it as security inspections and frisking began to take place.

By Sunday night, i.e. a few hours after the announcement, Tehran's security council concluded that it was not safe for Ahmadinejad to go to the school for his planned talk.

Following this decision, the news came that the planned use of buses to transport students from Imam Hussein University - belonging to the Pasdaran Revolutionary Guards - and Basisji militias from other universities to Tehran University was cancelled.

So as a small group of students, including Basijis from other universities, began gathering at an auditorium at Tehran University, rather than seeing Ahmadinejad at the podicum they found themselves facing Kamran Daneshjoo, the administration's minister of science.

Photos: Protests at Sharif University in Tehran

Second Absence for Ahmadinejad

This is the second time that Ahmadinejad is cancelling plans to speak at Tehran University out of security concerns. A similar decision to cancel a planned visit and speech by Ahmadinejad at Tehran University was made last year and students who had gathered to hear him had to settle for his first deputy Parviz Davoodi.

The new minister of science arrived at Tehran University between 10:30am and 11am on Monday to officially announce the university open through a speech. Two hours prior to his arrival, a large number of Pasdaran Revolutionary Guards vehicles, law enforcement forces and ministry of intelligence agents arrived at the campus and took control of the auditorium where Ahmadinejad was originally planned to deliver his speech.  After a while the doors to the auditorium were shut and nobody was allowed in. When the doors reopened, every body inside it had to leave through specially designated security gates.

Tehran University on Monday was witness to two distinct groups: on one hand were the Basiji militiamen and supporters of the current administration while on the other stood students who intended to critic Ahmadinejad administration's behavior and show their placards in protest to student harassment, imprisonment and summons to disciplinary boards. The latter was several times larger in size, even though the school is still officially closed and no classes are held yet.

And as has now become the practice for some months, supporters of Iran's Green Movement, which has rejected the official results of the June 12 presidential elections that has returned Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the presidency, were present at the school with their green scarves covering their face because of the security cameras and also the presence of several unidentified film and photography crews on the campus.

March in University

As soon as the news broke out that Ahmadinejad's visit to the university had been cancelled, groups supporting the Green Movement began to organize a march outside the school's main campus. Initially there were around a thousand students on the scene, and they were there because they had come to register for their courses. But soon their numbers multiplied.

Photos: Protests at Sharif University in Tehran

The supporters of the Green Movement began their march in the streets inside the campus and around the main university, where Ahmadinejad was initially scheduled to deliver a speech, and chanted slogans against him. Then they marched to the main entry gates of the university and chanted anti-government slogans facing the public and cars as they passed by. The cars outside the campus honked their cars and also repeated the chants. The honking and chants became so loud that it could be heard at Ferdowsi square, miles away from the campus.

The police began closing the streets to traffic around the university the large number of security agents that were present also began dispersing the crowds, and finally did not allow students to return to the university, which included those whose parents had come from other cities to join the students in their class registration. After marching and protesting for about an hour and a half, supporters of the Green Movement began tearing down posters and signs that the government had put up in support of creating the "Islamic University" or "Islamicising the Social Sciences". Some of them delivered their own talks criticizing the government of Ahmadinejad.

The student protest gathering ended as they vowed to hold more protests in the future.

... Payvand News - 09/30/09 ... --

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