Middle-East Scholars Hear of Academic Repression in Iraq and Iran





Faculty members and students in Iraq and Iran continue to face a severely repressive climate, two exiled scholars said Saturday during a panel discussion held in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Middle East Studies Association. The scholars called on faculty associations around the world to do more to promote academic freedom in the Middle East.

More than 300 Iraqi university professors have been assassinated by sectarian militias since the U.S. invasion in 2003, said Abdul Sattar Jawad, a visiting fellow at the University of Mississippi.

“The campaign to eliminate intellectuals—the people most needed to rebuild the country—continues unabated,” said Mr. Jawad, who taught at Al-Mustansiriya University and edited a newspaper in Baghdad before fleeing in 2005. He added that Iraqi universities are foolishly enforcing a mandatory retirement age of 63, a policy that he said is tearing the country’s best-trained generation from academic life.

Conditions are not much better in Iran, said Fatemeh Haghighatjoo, a research associate at the Five College Women’s Studies Research Center, in Massachusetts. Ms. Haghighatjoo served in Iran’s parliament during the reformist period that began in the late 1990s, but she left the country in 2004 as the regime intensified its harassment of scholars and journalists. She also previously taught psychology and counseling at the University of Tehran and Shahid Beheshti University....

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