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IRAN: Students keep opposition fires burning with small campus protests

March 9, 2010 |  9:08 am

Students at two Iranian universities staged small protests Monday and Tuesday, video footage uploaded to the internet showed, in the latest sign that the opposition movement unleashed by the country's disputed elections last year has not been stamped out.

Students at Tehran's Science and Technology University held a small vigil Tuesday to mark the 27th birthday of Kianoush Asa, one of the students killed in the post-election unrest. Asa, a native of of the Western Iranian city of Kermanshah was among the students dragged out of his dorm room early on the morning of June 15. His body, bearing signs of torture, finally showed up at a Tehran morgue 10 days later.

Students in the northern Iranian city of Babol held a campus protest Monday, demanding the release of classmates being held as prisoners. Video footage below.

Students have long played a key role in Iran's political battles, leading the charge during the 1953 and 1978 uprisings against the monarchy as well as the 1999 and 2009 protests against the country's hard-line Islamic order. 

Iran-protests3But Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the powerful cleric who heads two key government bodies, urged students to cool down during an address at Tehran University. 

"The need for wisdom and tolerance is increasingly felt under the present circumstances in the country," he said, according to a report by the Iranian Labor News Agency (in Persian) and accounts on his personal website. "In order to create a favorable climate in the society, we have to exercise moderation."  

But "moderation" doesn't seem to be in the lexicon of Iran's current hard-line leaders, especially when it comes to campus life. Last week, Science Minister Kamran Daneshjou said professors who "hold views opposed to the Islamic system" will be fired. "There is sufficient number of qualified professors in Iran, so the science ministry is not ashamed of removing those who have divergent views," he said, according to the Mehr News Agency.

-- Los Angeles Times

You Tube videos: Iranian students stage protests on campuses in Tehran and Babol.

Photo: A screenshot from a YouTube video of protest in Babol. Credit: Los Angeles Times