"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.