Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Gathering in Front of AI for Batebi and Other Prisoners of Conscience in Iran

There will be a gathering in front of Amnesty International offices in Lonodn at 2:30 pm in solidarity with Ahmad Batebi and other prisoners of conscience in Iran.

I am currently working in Amsterdam so I won't be able to make the gathering in London. My best wishes for all those who will turn up tomorrow.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Ahmad Batebi in Hospital

Ahmad Batebi, the Iranian student who was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment during Khatami's presidency, for having raised a bloody T-shirt of a student colleague at a peaceful student protest, was taken to hospital on Friday after going into a coma.

After Khatami was given an honorary doctorate at St. Andrew's university, the Islamic regime felt more emboldened to further ill treat Batebi. He was denied prison visits and leave, and was under constant threat to be transferred to section 8 of the Evin prison alongside dangerous criminals and drug addicts. On Friday, the prison authorities attempted to remove his personal belongings from him. This was like a last straw for Batebi's already frail nerves. He reacted angrily and then suffered convulsions and was unconscious for several hours. Prison authorities transferred him to the prison hospital at first. On Sunday Batebi suffered more convulsions and was taken to Tajrish Martyrs hospital along with six armed guards, while his feet were chained together.

I am still convinced that had the NUS in St. Andrews university insisted on Batebi's release as a pre-condition for Khatami's poxy honorary doctorate, Batebi would now be free and healthy.
I consider the lack of solidarity action by the St.Andrews university NUS, and in particular the cowardliness of the president of the Student Association, Tom D'Ardenne, partly responsible for the present demise of Ahmad Batebi. I hope the St. Andrews student association bear the guilt of what has happened, but then again cowards do not usually have a conscience.

More pictures of Tom D'Ardenne:
Picture 1
Picture 2

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Gathering Outside Islamic Assembly to Stop the Sivand Dam

This morning several hundred Iranians, mainly young, have gathered peacefully outside the Islamic Consultative Assembly (Majlis), under heavy rain in Tehran, to demand the closure of Sivand dam.

More than 20 NGOs including a group of seminary students from Qom, called for the gathering, to try and stop any possible damage to our national heritage in the Bolaghi by-pass and in particular to the tomb of the founder of our country, Cyrus the Great.

Monday, February 12, 2007

IRI uses British Universities as Propaganda Platform

"Note that propaganda is on the top of our agenda. Today's world rotates around propaganda. Note that the highest action that can bear fruits for our revolution here and help its export outside Iran is propaganda. Increasing and widening propaganda outside Iran should be at the top of our programmes". These are quotes from Ayatollah Khomeini on the importance of propaganda.

Whatever one thinks of Ayatollah Khomeini, it would be unfair not to admire his enormous talents in the art of revolution. He knew what levers to pull, and recognised so well the importance of the propaganda lever.

It seems those who carry Ayatollah Khomeini's legacy and represent the interests of the Islamic Republic in UK, have rightly seen the importance of the Western universities, as a useful propaganda platform for strengthening and export of the 1979 revolution. Universities after all will produce the future diplomats, think tank units, journalists, politicians, managers etc.

It is ironic that while secular academics are expelled and forced into early retirement in the Islamic Republic, student activists are imprisoned, and banned from furthering their education, and while actions like "gender rationing" in favour of more university places for male students instead of female students are being considered by the Islamic Republic, secular Western universities rather than restricting the Islamic Republic's political agenda on their campuses, knowingly or unknowingly, provide more and more opportunities for the Islamic Republic to give a rosey picture of a theocratic state.

Take a look at what happened at SOAS last week:

A request was made by an Iranian student at SOAS for a "symposium" about Iranian cinema. Later on an organisation named "Council for the Promotion of Persian Language and Literature" took over the organisation of the event and the "Iranian Cinema Symposium" actually became a pretext for an official celebration of the Islamic Revolution in a British university, organized and sponsored by the Iranian embassy in London.

The "Council for the Promotion of Persian Language and Literature" is actually a front for "Organisation for Islamic Propaganda and Communication" in Iran which amongst its long list of previous activities, printed literature in support and justification of Ayatollah Khomeini's fatwa for the assassination of the British writer, Salman Rushdie.

The official advertising poster for the event did not show the English translation of the Persian text. The English text was kept neutral, but the Persian text was aall about the glorification of the Islamic revolution in 1979.

On the first day of the event, a diplomat from the Iranian embassy in London, acted as the master of ceremony and the event was opened by recitals from the Koran and posters glorifying the Islamic revolution in 1979 were exhibited along with bookstalls disseminating Islamic Republic official literature.

Pictures of this event can be seen here on the Islamic Republic embassy related website:


University officials say that they had not realised the political content of the event, and have expressed their displeasure at such tactics used by the Islamic Republic embassy and have notified the Foreign Office.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

New Dress Code Restrictions for Female Students

Amir-Kabir University news website reports about new dress code restrictions for female students. A big sign at the gates warns women students that they can only attend the classes if they strictly observe the Islamic dress code.

The website reports the new restrictions were initiated by a young cleric who was recently promoted from deputy representative of the Supreme Leader in the University of Arts to the position of chief representative. During his time as the deputy representative, he had impressed his superiors and secured his promotion by his relentless efforts in encouraging male students to take on female student colleagues as temporary concubine wives - Sigheh.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Iranian Female MP Supports the Bill to Reduce Female Student Numbers

Prior to the 1979 revolution, many religious families in Iran withheld their daughters from further education, fearing the secular universities, where boys and girls were mixed in the same lecture room. After the Islamic revolution however, the universities and other institutes were deemed Islamic and the number of Iranian female students entering higher education saw a steady increase.

The percentage of female to male students for the university entrance exam is now 60/40 in favour of girls. This demographic change is now being blamed by the mullahs for much of the country's social catastrophes, to the extent that a bill is being passed in the parliament to make sure the number of female students does not exceed the number of male students.

Fatemeh Ajorloo, one of the few female MPs, is one of the supporters of the bill. "If we allocate the university places according to the nature of the course and the physical ability required, then it is better for society as a whole. We should not refer to this bill as gender allocation, but gender limitation. We should give consideration to the sanctity of gender in educational courses" Ajorloo stated in an interview with ILNA.

Avaz Heydarpour, another MP who also supports the bill said "If women want to go after science and knowledge they should seek courses that will be useful for them at home"

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Human Kindness Transcends Artificial Barriers

What a heart warming story this is. Israel awarding an Arab Muslim for saving Jewish lives:

Whenever human kindness transcends artificial barriers of race, religion, cast etc. it is a triumph for humanity. At a time when there is so much mindless sectarian violence, it is good to know about the likes of Khaled Abdulwahab.