Iran Now Vets Academics for Ideological Commitment
It’s the latest round of intellectual oppression in Iran: the Islamic Republic has embarked upon officially vetting master’s and doctoral candidates at Iranian universities to ascertain whether they possess a genuine “commitment” to the ideological values of the Islamist regime.
Whoever fails the vetting process will be barred from entering academia and pursuing their higher education, regardless of their scholarly and scientific qualifications.
Hamid Mirzadeh, the dean of the Islamic Azad University of Iran, has stated that all those who have been admitted to the university will be vetted by the Ministry of Intelligence and its dependent organizations. The new law, passed by the Supreme Committee of the Cultural Revolution, has led to the screening of 114,000 candidates this year alone.
Since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, vetting and barring the activities of all sorts of academics for ideological reasons has been the order of the day in Iran. The so-called Cultural Revolution of the early 1980s managed to purge all kinds of allegedly “Westernized” professors, students and staff from Iranian colleges. Many were expelled or arrested and imprisoned, and not a small number were tortured and killed. That was admittedly done in order to “purify” the Iranian academy and to render it “Islamic.”
In recent years, a number of programs in liberal humanities departments that were deemed “Western” and “Anti-Islamic,” including law, philosophy, sociology, psychology, and political science, have been discarded and replaced with Islamic counterparts to reflect the ideological stance of the regime.
In addition, foreign languages and literature came under heavy scrutiny. Militant versions of Third-Worldist and post-colonial theories that adopted radical anti-Western attitudes became the official discourse in Iranian humanities departments. Most recently, a number of universities and academic organizations have introduced separate courses for men and women.
The latest action demonstrates the Islamist regime’s resolve to blatantly disregard human rights in general, and the Iranian citizens’ right to a free and liberal education in particular. If this overarching trend of social engineering is allowed to go on, in a few years all the Iranian academy’s output will simply produce automaton-like regime functionaries, 1984-style.
Reza Parchizadeh is a political theorist and analyst. He has a BA and an MA in English Language and Literature from University of Tehran, Iran; has studied Media and Communication Studies at Örebro University, Sweden; and is a Ph.D. candidate in English Literature and Criticism at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP).