Seven professors from Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences (pictured) in western Iran have been fired after a Kurdish folk dance with men and women at a graduation ceremony
Video of the June 1 ceremony, of students and teachers of both sexes dancing freely on stage, recently went viral. The university’s public relations department said the dance was conducted without official permission and crossed “red lines”.
The offending video:
— Sirwan Mansouri (@MansouriSirwan) July 9, 2022
The layoffs come amid a wave of arrests by Iranian authorities of reformists, activists and filmmakers, as the country faces lingering economic problems.
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The 105 signatories noted, “It was the policy of intolerance and lack of respect for academic freedom that caused their wrongful dismissals.” They cited restrictions on free speech in “a country that has suffered so much from brain drain and ever-shrinking numbers of experienced researchers.”
Fellows come from universities in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Denmark, Sweden, Netherlands, Switzerland, Ireland, Canada, India, Turkey, and Qatar.
The letter did not name specific professors who were expelled from Iranian universities, as the signatories “did not want to compromise [their] situation”.
However, in recent weeks, the dismissals have included Arash Abazari from the philosophy department of the Sharif University of Technology; Bijan Abdolkarimi, professor of philosophy at the University of Azad; Reza Omidi, social policy expert at the University of Tehran; and Mohammad Fazeli, professor of sociology at Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran.
Fazeli worked at the Center for Strategic Studies, the research arm of the president’s office, under the centrist Hassan Rouhani administration. Rouhani was replaced by extremist Ebrahim Raisi in August.
He replied on Twitter last month: “One of the worst times in the history of a nation is a time or a period when nothing is surprising. When faced with surprise or wrongdoing, people ask, “Did you expect anything else?” »
Ebrahim Azadegan, director of the philosophy department at Sharif University, said Iranian authorities wrongly accused Professor Abazari of signing an open letter in 2010, shortly after mass protests against the disputed presidential election in 2009.
Professor Abdolkarimi said he was removed from his post following a 2019 speech interpreted as support for the 2009 protests.
The international scholars concluded their open letter: “We demand that all terminated faculty be immediately reinstated unconditionally so that they continue their productive services to their students, their institutions and the community at large.”