Tehran, 11 Dec. (IPS) Hundreds of pro-reforms students burned pictures of hard line Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadi Nezhad, booed him with chants of “Ahmadi Nezhad, symbol of discrimination and dictatorship” and threw firecrackers in an effort to disrupt his speech at a university on Monday, according to eyewitnesses and reports from several Iranian independent news agencies.
It was the first time that the fanatic president who was elected last July on promises to fight corruption and hardship for the poor, had faced such open hostility from students.
It was the first time that the fanatic president had faced such open hostility from students.
But a spokesman for the Government said the President was not deterred and completed his address. “While he was speaking today they tried to interrupt but they couldn’t and they even burned his pictures while he was speaking and they threw firecrackers but Ahmadi Nezhad continued his speech, undeterred”, he added.
While the spokesman claimed “50 to 60 students were involved”, eyewitnesses said hundreds of students chanted “Death to the dictator” as basiji students and forces as well as units of presidential guards clashed with anti-Ahmadi Nezhad students at the Amir Kabir University in Tehran. At least two students had been wounded and taken to hospital, sources said.
Despite severe security measures, the protesting students apparently avoided security guards who tried to prevent them from attending the speech at Amir Kabir University, according to the student news Web site, “AdwarNews”.
“As Ahmadi Nezhad approached the podium to speech, the members of the Islamic Students Association began booing and chanting, while some even burned pictures of the Iranian president”, Adwar confirmed.
“As students chanted “Liar, Get Out”, Ahmadi Nezhad got so angry that he accused the students of being agents of the United States and being on the American’s payroll. He then threatened to punish them harshly”, one student told Iran Press Service, adding that officials from the University had filled the auditorium with basij volunteers and women clad in black chadors, posing as students.
One student asked him why he had transformed universities into garrisons and another asked him about all the pro reform professors who had been expelled from universities under the disguise of having reached their age of retreat.
Analysts said students, like the majority of Iranians are angry at growing crackdowns on the press, on students, on reformists. “Clampdown on student activists and at pro reform professors in Iranian universities has drawn strong criticism from those who back reforms in the Islamic Republic. His spending policies have been blamed by critics for inflating prices”, one analyst observed.
The semi independent students’ news agency ISNA said the President had responded to the burning of his pictures by saying: “Everyone should know that Ahmadi Nezhad is prepared to be burned in the path of true freedom, independence and justice”.
You claim there is no freedom. But I’m proud to hear you shouting against me and no one harms you.
“You claim there is no freedom. But I’m proud to hear you shouting against me and no one harms you”, Ahmadi Nezhad told protesters, as the basijis who were bussed in and carried pictures of Hasan Nasrallah, the leader of the Iran-backed Hezbollah Organisation in Lebanon, would chant: “Ahmadi, Ahmadi, we support you”.
"A small number who claim there is suppression here are themselves creating a suppressive atmosphere and will not allow the majority to listen", the FARS news agency, close to the Revolutionary Guards, quoted the President, himself a former Pasdar, as having said.
The semi-official Fars said supporters of the president had prevented the protesters from approaching the podium where the president was speaking and Ahmadinejad told the students: “The minority group which says there is no freedom of speech are not allowing the majority to hear my remarks,” Fars said.
When a strong firecracker exploded, the President chanted one of the old student’s slogan “Tank, Canon, Machinegun, have no more effect”. The protesters immediately responded: ”Tank, Canon and Basij, have no more any effect”. ENDS AHMADI STUDENTS 111206