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Conflict Continues Over Tehran University Chancellor's Dismissal: Plans for Secular University Lecturers?

By Jalal Yaghoubi (Source: Rooz Online)

Tehran University

The removal of Farhad Rahbar, the chancellor of Tehran University continues to dominate news stories in Iran. Yesterday, the Supreme Cultural Revolution Council headed by Ali Larijani held a session in which it thanked Rahbar for his work during his tenure. At the same time, a member of university student Basij told Fars news agency, "If a moderate person was to take the help in accordance with the government's promises, then as a moderate Rahbar performed well and did not allow the university to be politicized. We currently hear of possible names to head Tehran University whose record indicate only extremist thus making the goals of moderation mere fantasies."

Continued support for Rahbar's dismissal on the other hand has also taken new twists. Taghi Azad Armaki a University of Tehran professor for example has said that Rahbar's behavior was not rational or professional. "They looked at the university as if it were a bureaucracy; an office that was in the hands of a specific single political party which tried to inject its own people into it while driving out all others. Lecturers whose views did not align with their political views were dismissed from the university," he said. "They went to the Supreme Cultural Revolution Council and obtained all the authorities that the Council had on hiring and firings of lecturers. They said colleges, professors and groups did not have to have any supervisory role in hiring new faculty members and the Cultural Revolution Council approved this. The Council in reality let him do this."

Farhad Rahbar has an intelligence background as he had at one time been a member of Iran's ministry of intelligence, while also holding other posts such as the chairmanship of the plan and budget organization during Ahmadinejad's administration. When the PBO was dissolved, Rahbar was appointed as chancellor of Tehran University. He had always been considered close to Ahmadinejad. But in time Ahmadinejad's relationship with his supporters began to wane and soon many accused him of following the deviant group which was said to have diverged from the main course of the revolution or direction as interpreted by the supreme leader. In early 2013 Ahmadinejad asked the then minister of science - the government agency that oversees university affairs - to remove Rahbar and Bijan Ranjbar, the chancellor of Tarbiat Modarres (Teachers Training) University. His letter said Rahbar's management was "politicized and unscientific" in conflict with the "direction of the public and the university." There were reports at the time that Ahmadinejad had also asked the minister to remove the heads of Amir Kabir University and University Jihad, which were ignored.

But Rahbar's removal was not welcomed by hardline conservatists. The conservative website Farda claimed that the reason for the dismissal of the chancellor of Tehran University was related to the events that took place on Student Day and Rahbar's opposition to allow former president Mohammad Khatami to deliver a speech there. Hardline Kayhan newspaper also criticized his removal by writing that "tribalism had been given priority to scientific and national progress." It said that the move was orchestrated by reformist groups.

cartoon by Mana Neyestani,

University Basij also responded to the dismissals by writing that the successor should not be an active member of the 2009 protests. Following this, an open letter by 600 members of the University Basij was published which warned about the ministry of science edging away from moderation. It specifically asked the ministry what its plans were for secular lecturers who did not believe in the Islamic university. "Could university lecturers or the chancellor of a university who themselves did not believe in Islamicizing universities take any steps towards materializing Islamic social sciences?" It asked. The letter called for the development of "native science," a term to distinguish it from Western social sciences. This group has feared that Tehran University posts, both academic and administrative, had been filled by those who were sympathetic to the 2009 protests against the controversial presidential elections of the year that returned Ahmadinejad to his second term in office.

... Payvand News - 03/07/14 ... --

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