Tehran, 10 Oct. (IPS) Mr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad responded politely to an otherwise impolite president of the Columbia University of New York who, receiving the fanatic Iranian President on 25 September at the University’s World Leaders Forum, introduced him to the audience as a “petty, but brutal, uneducated dictator”.
But did he also hear Iranian students who, on 8 October, branded him as a “dictator” and shouted “death to despot” when he was delivering a speech at Tehran University, marking the start of the new university year in Iran, for the simple reason that students who are not in tune with him have been prevented by the security forces to enter the campus, hearing his speech and calling his shots, as it hapenned at the Columbia University.
Ahmadinejad said he was victim of "American and Israeli plots"
He did not. For the simple reason that in order to prevent the repetition of the last year’s noisy, wide protests against Mr. Ahmadinejad on a similar occasion, the Police, the Intelligence and the Interior ministries special anti-riot units and, the Revolutionary Guards and the Basij militia had closed all roads leading to the University from 24 hours before, letting only pro-Government students entering the premises.
On that occasion, pro-reform students had disrupted Mr. Ahmadinejad’s speech, put up reversed posters of him with caption reading "death to the dictator" and setting fire to his pictures.
“This is a proof of the great Islamic freedom the people enjoy in this country”, Mr. Ahmadinejad had said afterward, oblivion of the fact that tens of demonstrators had been beaten up by the basiji students and the security forces, arresting tens of them.
On the day of Mr. Ahamadinejad’s speech this year, the smallest auditorium had been reserved and filled by basiji students only, handpicked by their chief, the son of Mr. Saffar Harrandi, the Islamic Guidance and Culture Minister.
“The gates of the University were chain-locked by hundreds of regular police and then guarded by riot police equipped with hard helmets, plastic shields and in green uniform”, the French news agency AFP reported.
Outside the University however, hundreds of pro-reform students, male and female, facing a huge security force, were chanting a popular song, “O My classmate friend”, shouting “Ahmadinejad Dictator” and "Ahmadinejad is Pinochet! Iran will not become Chile".
President Amadinejad did not hear Iranian students who, on 8 October, branded him as a “dictator” and shouted “death to Despot”
At same time, inside the campus, supporters of the President were shouting against the anti-Ahmadinejad students: "Shame on you hypocrites! Leave the university”, and “O Dear President, we support you”, then, backed by plainclothes men, clashed with the protesters.
To shut down the protesters and stop them from entering into the campus, the security forces used tear gas and pepper grenades, beat them up with clubs” one eyewitness told Iran Press Service.
According the “Fars” news agency, which is controlled by hard liners close to the President, the clashes and hot-headed verbal exchanges between the rival groups disrupted the planned live broadcast of Ahmadinejad's speech”.
Actually, according to eyewitnesses, Ahmadinejad’s speech had been interrupted several times by the explosion of firecrackers.
Pro-Government newspapers and internet sites, referring to leaflets distributed inside the University, accused the protesters of being “manipulated by American and Israeli intelligence and agents who try to undermine the successes Iranian President scored at international level and demolish his personality as the symbol of a new world conscience”.
“They are either communists or members of the SAVAK”, the leaflets, distributed by the pro-Government basijis bussed in the University said, referring to the Shah’s time security and intelligence organization.
students protesting at Ahmadinejad
Earlier, in an open letter to Mr. Ahmadinejad, the Office for the Consolidation of Unity, Iranian student’s largest pro-reform organization, had raised 20 questions, including: “Why Iranian university can invite the president of the United States while Iranian professors are refused the same right?
“Why the best of the professors have been sacked and the universities purged of them just because they are supporting reforms? Why several students have been arrested and jailed just because they staged a peaceful demonstration?
“Why some students have been arrested for articles they have not even write? Why some students have been “starised” (forced to put badge in shape of a star of their clothes) and expanded to students belonging to ethnic and religious minorities? And finally, why the President does not dare to respond student’s earlier and repeated demands and requests?
In his conference, Mr. Ahmadinejad claimed that what happened at Columbia University was a “plan prepared and orchestrated by the Zionist lobby”, a plot that “thanks to the Almighty, he had been at able not only to derail it, but also to take off the mask from the face of the plotters, make his appeal for universal peace, justice and religious values be heard by the people all around the world and show that Iran is righteous and America the guilty power”.
Why some students have been “starised” and expanded to students belonging to ethnic and religious minorities?
But in another letter, signed this time by a group named "Liberal Students of the Iranian Universities" and posted on 9 October by "Adwarnews", the main website of Iranian reformist students, the signatories asked the President if he knew "what means individual cell in an Iranian prison?".
"Do you know what means torture, humiliation. If you don't, go and visit Evin prison's section 209 which is controlled by your Intelligence Ministry and ask those held their what are their crimes?".
"How can you lie, saying Iran is one of the most free nations of the world while everyday many people are arrested for almost no reason except that they are do not agree with you and other leaders of the regime?".
"You talk about hman rights. But have you read one single line of that Charter?
"We want also to know how the 120 billion US Dolars oil revenue from oil was spent by your Government? Why isthat the United Nations has passed 2 resolutions against Iran?" etc..
Nevertheless, some informed Iranian political analysts say one should not think that the Monday’s symbolic action of the anti-Government students would change anything in the present situation.
“By their mistakes, the Bush Administration, the president of the Columbia University, the ruling Neo-cons, the Office of the Vice president etc.. are consolidating both the greatly unpopular Ahmadinejad as well as the regime”, one such source told IPS on condition of not being named.
Dick Cheney is the man who can guarantee longlife to the Iranian ruling mollahs
“In their hearts, (Ayatollah Ali) Khamene’i and all other top personalities of the regime, including the so-called reformists, are praying their God to encourage the Americans to attack Iran. Their logic is as simple as valid: Against hundred of thousands civilians who might be killed in an American strike, against most of the nuclear and military installations destroyed, not only they and the regime would survive, not only they and the regime would be supported by the great majority of the Iranians, but they and the regime would be guaranteed for many decades and at the same time, they and the regime becomes the regions supreme power”, he explained.
“Would the Bush Administration give that ultimate gift to their arch ‘enemy?”
“The only person who can answer this question is Dick Cheney”, he said. ENDS STUDENTS AHMADI 101007