Iranian president stresses need for academic freedom

Says citizens should 'not be concerned' by 'diverse views'

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called for greater academic freedoms in the country's universities and denounced restrictions that suppress innovation and force out inventive faculty and students.

Speaking at a state-televised event marking Tehran University's academic year, Rouhani warned of the intolerance and ingratiation such restrictions breed.

Promoting diversity and inclusion in student groups

"Governing and administering the country is not possible without tolerance. Let's let people express themselves," he said, adding that citizens should not worry about professors' diverse views.

Improving and retaining faculty diversity

He also lamented the lack of outlets for student voices, saying "I am here to listen, not to make a speech."

The president, a relative moderate, has run into resistance from government conservatives, including the country's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as he tries to promote greater openness in the country. 

In August, parliament impeached reformist minister of higher education Reza Faraji Dana for trying to reinstate professors and students expunged during the previous presidency. Rouhani appointed another reformist as interim minister.

Students at the event carried placards reading, "We are waiting to realize your promises" (AP/ The Washington Post, 10/7).

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