New York Times: Iran’s educational authorities will send 1,000 religious clerics into schools in Tehran to tamp down Western influence and political opposition, newspapers reported on Sunday.
The New York Times
By NAZILA FATHI
Iran’s educational authorities will send 1,000 religious clerics into schools in Tehran to tamp down Western influence and political opposition, newspapers reported on Sunday.
The newspapers quoted the deputy director of Tehran’s education department, Mohammad Boniadi, as saying that the clerics would start work at schools in the capital in September to make students “aware of opposition plots.”
Mr. Boniadi did not say what grade levels would be affected, but a similar plan was put into place in elementary, middle and high schools immediately after the 1979 revolution. At that time, thousands of “morality teachers” were sent to schools to promote the government ideology.
The latest move appeared to be part of a wider social and cultural crackdown on the country’s youth. It is one of several measures the government has taken to expand its influence at schools since last summer when, after a disputed presidential election that the opposition claims was stolen, the Islamic government faced some of the worse protests in three decades.
Last month, the government reinstituted its ban against teaching music in schools, which was imposed after the revolution but had been lifted in recent years, the semiofficial ILNA news agency reported. Cultural authorities have also issued guidelines for permissible male haircuts.
Authorities also announced they were training pro-government forces to start blogs to increase the government’s influence on the Internet, the Fars news agency reported. More than 18 million people use the Internet in Iran, according to figures from the government, which has blocked hundreds of pro-reform Web sites and arrested dozens of bloggers.
The head of the Basij militia force, Mohammad Reza Naqdi, told Fars last week that the force was planning to increase its Internet capability threefold by the Iranian new year next March. “We have plans to transform the Basij and increase its influence,” Mr. Naqdi was quoted as saying.
A former reformist member of the Iranian Parliament, Ali Akbar Mousavi Khoini, who was detained by the government in 2006 and is now a visiting fellow in Iranian studies at Stanford, said that “radical forces think they can mobilize their forces from younger ages,” but that in Iran’s case, they may be wrong.
Last year’s protests, Mr. Khoini said, showed that despite efforts to Islamize universities for several years, youths had already developed their own political and cultural views.
“This plan will also fail,” he said, “since younger people can no longer be influenced by a single cleric.”
“Even the children of radicals are influenced more by the Internet than ideologies taught at schools,” Mr. Khoini added.
Nearly two-thirds of Iran’s 70 million people were born after the revolution, and theirs was the dominant presence in last year’s protests.The newspapers quoted Mr. Boniadi, the Tehran education official, as saying that the education system had failed to “reform and renovate the thoughts of students.”
“We have to take full advantage of this opportunity,” he said.