It is a very revealing list of disciplines for which Iran’s leadership has voiced objections: “law, philosophy, management, psychology, political science … women’s studies and human rights.”
The rights to free inquiry and dissent have been fundamental to the intellectual freedom that has allowed Western universities to flourish and vault ahead of the Islamic world, which must insistently remind the rest of us of its “golden age” that ended almost a millennium ago, back before they could even blame Israel for that eventuality.
All kidding aside, in the long run, this will be a study in jihad — the push to impose Islamic law by any means necessary — causing intellectual and ultimately material poverty through the climate of fear created when coloring outside of the ideological lines leads one to fear for his or her safety.
In that atmosphere of mental self-enslavement, the impulse to innovate dries up, because the price of “failure” has been made artificially and brutally high.
And Iranian authorities may boast of their universities’ pious state of arrested development while the rest of the world passes them by. “Iran restricts social sciences seen as ‘Western’,” by Nasser Karimi for the Associated Press, October 24:
TEHRAN, Iran – Iran has imposed new restrictions on 12 university social sciences deemed to be based on Western schools of thought and therefore incompatible with Islamic teachings, state radio reported Sunday.
The list includes law, philosophy, management, psychology, political science and the two subjects that appear to cause the most concern among Iran’s conservative leadership — women’s studies and human rights.
That’s one way to get around mentioning Islam’s texts and teachings as playing a role in creating this situation. It’s just those “conservatives” again.
“The content of the current courses in the 12 subjects is not in harmony with religious fundamentals and they are based on Western schools of thought,” senior education official Abolfazl Hassani told state radio.
When “Allah knows best” meets “government knows best”:
Hassani said the restrictions prevent universities from opening new departments in these subjects. The government will also revise the content of current programs by up to 70 percent over the next few years, he said.
The decision is seen as a response to concerns expressed last year by Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who said the subjects could lead to religious doubts. Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters in Iran, urged officials to take altering the curriculum into “serious consideration.”
Some two million out of 3.5 million Iranian university students are studying social sciences and humanities, according to government statistics.
University students have played a key role in opposition protests in Iran, especially after the country’s disputed presidential election last year, which opposition activists say hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won through massive fraud.
Since Ahmadinejad came to power in 2005, he has pushed a revival of the fundamentalist goals pursued in the 1980s under the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, father of the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran.
In 2006, dozens of liberal university professors and teachers were sent into retirement, drawing strong protests from students. Liberal and secular professors teach at universities around the country, but they are a minority. Most are politically passive and do not identify with either the hard-liners or the liberal camp.
They’re simply positioning themselves as well as they can to ride out the next purge.
In 1980, Iran closed down universities for two years to get rid of partisan students of political groups, mostly armed leftist ones.