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Debate Erupts in Iran on ‘Ideologizing’ Sciences

Debate Erupts in Iran on ‘Ideologizing’ Sciences

Monday, 26 February, 2018 - 09:30
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. (AFP)

Debate has raged in Iran in recent days over President Hassan Rouhani’s opposition to the “ideologization” of sciences taught at universities and research centers.

Attempts have been ongoing since the 1979 Islamic revolution to introduce Islamic ideology to chemistry, physics and math courses taught at universities and research centers in the country.

Rouhani however ridiculed on Saturday such attempts, saying: “Some sides want to differentiate between religious and non-religious sciences at a time when sciences have nothing to do with ideology.”

“Some sides have been trying for years to introduce Islamic physics, chemistry, engineering and mathematics. What do they mean by that?” he wondered, while also noting the great sums that have been paid to achieve this goal.

“There were attempts in the past to establish bourgeois and socialist sciences and they failed because sciences are not linked to ideology,” he continued.

“We cannot speak today of conservative and reformist mathematics because algebra and math are universal,” he explained.

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had on November 30 declared that “Islamizing” sciences was the precursor to establishing “complete control and achieving progress on a global level.”

In 2014, he demanded that radical change be introduced to human sciences. In 2017, Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander Mohammed Ali Jaafari underlined the need to “redefine” human sciences at universities in Iran. He explained that years after the revolution, the military aspects of the revolt should be followed up with revolutions in various fields.

Rouhani meanwhile continued his criticism on Saturday by noting that scientists and university professors in Iran had been accused of espionage for their association with foreign universities. He instead stressed the need for scientific cooperation with foreign powers.

He pointed out to the wave of arrests targeting environment researchers and activists. One detainee, environmentalist Kavous Seyed Emami, died some two weeks ago in Evin prison of an alleged suicide less than a month after his arrest, said authorities.

Rouhani said that professors and researchers should not be doubted, criticizing security agencies for detaining these figures.

Several pro-Revolutionary Guards media outlets omitted on Sunday several parts of Rouhani’s controversial speech.

The Kayhan newspaper said that the president is “veering off his main duties and delving in theoretical and intellectual debates in order to ignore the main demands of the Iranian people.”

Revolutionary Guards mouthpiece, Javan newspaper, attacked Rouhani for getting involved in a “religious philosophical discussion that is not associated with his duties.” It said that he is committing the mistakes of his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, “who opted for theoretical debates during his second term in office.”

Ahmedinejad’s government had implemented its policy of “Iranian Islam” on human sciences and curricula in the country. The policy led to the sacking of several human and social science professors from Iranian universities.

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