October 11, 2006

Captive Audience


This cartoon is from December 6, 2004 and is in our forthcoming book, Black & White World III.

From TimesOnline: Fury as St Andrews honours Hezbollah backer. (via Iran Press News and Little Green Footballs)

STUDENT leaders are organising a mass protest over St Andrews University’s decision to award an honorary degree to a former Iranian president who praised Hezbollah.

Muhammad Khatami is to be made an honorary doctor of laws by Sir Menzies Campbell, the Liberal Democrat leader who is also the university’s chancellor.

Khatami will open the university’s Institute for Iranian Studies, which will house 12,000 books donated by Sadegh Kharazi, Iran’s former ambassador to France. The collection of Iranian texts, the largest of its kind in Europe, is estimated to be worth more than £100,000.

The decision to confer the honour on Khatami has provoked criticism from human rights groups who claim thousands of Iranian citizens were jailed and tortured for their political beliefs during his eight-year term that ended last year with the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The National Union of Students wants his invitation withdrawn unless Ahmad Batebi, a student jailed in 1999 during a pro-democracy protest, is freed. ...

Iranian exiles are drawing up a petition demanding St Andrews withdraw the invitation. "Thousands of people are seething about this,” said Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi, a New York-based Iranian [who helped organize] the petition. “How can a man who imprisoned and oppressed thousands of students in Iran be given a degree by an academic institution?”

Here is the petition opposing St. Andrews' actions: Condemn the University of St. Andrews to award Mr. Khatami an Honorary Degree!

Only after 2 years into Mr. Khatami’s presidency, following the banning order of many newspapers and suppression of any voice for democracy, the Tehran University students’ uprising in July 1999, demanding for the freedom of speech and calling for Democratic Rights was brutally vanquished by the Regime’s military forces!

Mr. Khatami himself delivered a speech during the students’ protest which condemned their movement declaring to ”Crush any movement which would undermine the foundation of the Islamic Republic, at any cost"!

UPDATE -- Oct. 16: From TELOS: Khatami, Again: From Harvard to St. Andrews by Russell Berman. (Iran Press News)

To those who misrepresent Khatami as a reformist, one can only ask: where has he ever criticized the current regime directly? When has he called for a release of the political prisoners, including student leaders (for whom, arguably, university communities might have a particular interest)? Or—as proposed here earlier—had he wished sincerely for reconciliation with the United States, why did he not visit the survivors of the 1979 embassy seizure and ask for their forgiveness? But: no truth and no reconciliation.

Posted by Forkum at October 11, 2006 07:18 PM