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September 6, 2006
Iran Purges Its Intellegentsia

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has engaged on a campaign to purge moderates and secular thinkers from its universities. The move comes in contrast to Ahmadinejad's challenge to George Bush for an open and uncensored debate, and shows the real inclinations of the mullahcracy:

Iran's hard-line president urged students Tuesday to push for a purge of liberal and secular university teachers, another sign of his determination to strengthen Islamic fundamentalism in the country.

With his call echoing the rhetoric of the nation's 1979 Islamic revolution, Ahmadinejad appears determined to remake Iran by reviving the fundamentalist goals pursued under the republic's late founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Iran still has strong moderate factions, and since taking office a year ago Ahmadinejad has moved to replace pragmatic veterans in the government and diplomatic corps with former military commanders and inexperienced religious hard-liners. His administration also has launched crackdowns on independent journalists, Web sites and bloggers.

Speaking to a group of students Tuesday, Ahmadinejad called on them to pressure his administration to keep driving out moderate instructors, a process that began earlier this year.

Ahmadinejad has already begun this process. Over the past year since his election, he has caused the dismissal of dozens of tenured professors, supposedly as a response to the demands from a radicalized student body. He put a cleric in charge of Teheran University for the first time, attempting to underscore his dedication to radical Islamist principles.

His call to the students is no accident, nor is his focus on the universities. The popular revolution in which Ahmadinejad participated started with the students, and Ahmadinejad wants to leverage the connection for greater popular support. The mantle of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini would bolster his image among the hardliners and perhaps demoralize reformers enough to silence them.

His new mission reveals the manner in which Ahmadinejad and the mullahs intend to rule Iran. They want to return to the heady days of the revolution, when Iranians gladly complied with the harsh religious dictates in their happiness to have removed the Shah and to fulfill the promise of an Islamic paradise. The reality of isolation and radicalism have tempered their enthusiasm to the point where the ruling mullahs must now issue correctives to the gains secularism have made in Iran. Dissent will not be tolerated; the totalitarian and fascistic nature of radical Islamism has been revealed.

Will the West notice? Or will they continue to insist that Ahmadinejad can be a rational partner for peace and stability in the region?

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 6, 2006 5:43 AM

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