Iran Focus: Tehran, May 28 – The hard-line government of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad again faces embarrassing controversy over the academic credentials of a top official.
Tehran, May 28 – The hard-line government of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad again faces embarrassing controversy over the academic credentials of a top official.
This time, it is Mohammad-Reza Rahimi, Iran’s first vice president, who claims a PhD that turns out to be from a Canadian school accused of being a diploma mill.
This week the website Alef, affiliated with conservative MP Ahmad Tavakkoli, published a report alleging that at a recent cabinet meeting, Science Minister Kamran Daneshjoo presented the results of his investigation into Rahimi’s academic credentials.
Rahimi, born in 1949 in Kurdistan, was appointed by Ahmadinejad as vice president for Legal and Parliamentary Affairs in 2005. He was appointed first vice president on 13 September 2009, and he also heads the Faculty of Law at Tehran’s Free University.
Previously governor of Kurdistan Province, he was a Member of Parliament from Kurdistan from 1980-1992.
The Alef report claimed that after being presented with the Science Minister’s report about Rahimi, Ahmadinejad told the cabinet that the first vice president would no longer use the title doctor and should not be referred to as such.
The report also said that hard-line MPs Ilias Naderan, Ahmad Tavakkoli and Alireza Zakani had asked a Parliamentary commission to dismiss Rahimi for dishonesty.
In 2008, Interior Minister Ali Kordan was sacked after it was discovered that he held a forged doctorate degree from Britain’s prestigious Oxford University that was riddled with spelling and grammatical errors.
The scandal turned into a national embarrassment for Ahmadinejad, leading Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to condemn the local media’s criticism of the government. “This immoral way of speaking against the government is not something that God will easily forgive,” Khamenei said at the time.
On Tuesday, the official news agency IRNA carried a report quoting an “informed official” as saying that the Science Ministry had evaluated Rahimi’s academic credentials and found them to be sound.
Alef published a subsequent report alleging that Rahimi had “earned” a degree from Belford University in Vancouver. The online university, which allows people to purchase degrees based on “life experience,” has been accused of being a diploma mill.
Alef also published documents that, the Website claimed, prove that Rahimi’s academic credentials were forgeries.