TEHRAN, Iran — Students disrupted a speech by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Monday at a major university in Tehran, setting fire to photographs of him and throwing firecrackers.
The protesters chanted “death to the dictator” and demanded the resignation of Alireza Rahai, a conservative and the chancellor of the institution, Amirkabir University, the Iranian Student News Agency reported.
Rahai was appointed to the post after Ahmadinejad was elected. Amirkabir, a polytechnic university in downtown Tehran, has been a center of student dissent.
It was the first major public protest against Ahmadinejad since his election more than a year ago.
Ahmadinejad cut his speech short and left as his security guards tried to stop angry students, who kicked at the car that carried him away, witnesses said. The guards did not remove the students or use force to stop the protests.
Since Ahmadinejad took office, government pressure has increased on Iranians who have actively promoted changes to create a more open society. As part of the crackdown, dozens of university students around the country have been barred from taking classes this year, and a substantial number of professors have been demoted or forced to resign.
In a statement carried on the students’ Web site, advarnews.com, they announced that they had been protesting the growing political pressure under Ahmadinejad, also accusing him of corruption, mismanagement and discrimination.
“The students showed that despite vast propaganda, the president has not been able to deceive academia,” the statement added.
About 1,000 students at Amirkabir also protested Sunday to denounce the increasing pressure on the reformist group at the university, newspapers reported Monday.
Last week, 2,000 students protested at Tehran University on the country’s annual student day, with speakers saying there had been a crackdown on dissent at universities since Ahmadinejad was elected.
When was this article published? December 11, 2006.
In full-blown “blame Bush” mode, liberals have been suggesting that Iranians were “comfortable” with having Ahmeanie as president of Iran because he would “stand up to Bush” but, now that Obama is President here, supposedly the Iranians are “suddenly” desirous of “reform” since they no longer have to worry about the warmongering W.
The left is also claiming that the reason Ahmeanie was elected in the first place was because of President Bush, which is disputable, considering the fact that – according to at least one article I’ve read from that year – many Iranians didn’t even know who he was:
Tehran, Jun. 25 – “Ahmadinejad? Who’s he?”
This was the typical reaction of most Iranians a day after the first round of presidential elections in Iran, when they heard that the two candidates facing each other in the run-off were veteran politician Ayatollah Ali-Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and the little-known, ultra-conservative mayor of Tehran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Last week’s surprise was all forgotten by the much bigger shock on Friday, when Ahmadinejad defeated the former President and iconic figure in the ruling theocracy in a landslide victory that consolidated power in the hands of the ruling Islamic clerics.
Is it quite possible that the elections in 2005 were rigged, too? Yes, it is:
Ahmadinejad’s 2005 election, one of his chief lieutenants observed after the victory, was no “accident.” It was the result of “two years of complicated, multifaceted planning” by a coalition that included Revolutionary Guards commanders, a handful of clergy, some leaders of the Basiji (unhappy that the government had not yet given them jobs in the coveted civil service), and friends and allies of Ahmadinejad from his days as mayor of Tehran. This coalition was helped to victory by Ayatollah Khamenei. Easily the most powerful man in the country today, Khamenei has legal control of the army, the police, the intelligence agencies, the Revolutionary Guards and Basijis, the judiciary, and the country’s radio and television station. He also controls more than half of the Iranian economy through his control of the foundations (Bonyads) created from wealth confiscated during the revolution.
In the weeks before the election, Hashemi Rafsanjani, who was running against Ahmadinejad, promised to work to curtail Khamenei’s power. Rafsanjani, the presumed winner, talked more like a chief of state than a candidate. His message pleased Europeans who had long seen Rafsanjani as a leader with whom they could do business, but it angered Khamenei, who helped secure Ahmadinejad’s surprise victory. While Rafsanjani and the other losing candidates claimed that millions of dollars from public coffers had been illegally poured into the Ahmadinejad campaign, Khamenei “suggested” to all Revolutionary Guard commanders and Basiji leaders that they should vote for Ahmadinejad, each taking as many family members along as they could. Moreover, Ahmadinejad benefited from his rival’s complicity in creating the political situation voters had come to despise. When Rafsanjani—the “moderate” inside the Iranian regime who had arranged the secret Iran-contra negotiations between Iran and the Reagan administration—tried to reinvent himself as a candidate of reform, voters did not take him seriously.
History suggests that reform-minded Iranians were already planting the seeds for a revolution a little over a year after Ahmeanie had been elected, if not sooner. In 2007, members of the Iranian parliament were growing disgusted with him and his attitudes towards the west and demanded answers. The idea that reform-minded Iranians were “comfortable” with his leadership as long as Bush was around is a disgraceful lie that has been perpetuated by some on the left who are desperate to give Obama some type of moral foreign policy victory. Don’t believe them.
Read about the latest developments going on in Iran here.
Cross-posted to Right Wing News, where I am helping guestblog for John Hawkins on Sundays.