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Iran's president wants liberal professors out

Jiang | 06.09.2006 15:37

TEHRAN, Iran -- President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday that he wants to purge liberal and secular faculty members from universities, in a move toward reviving the nation's 1980s Islamic ideals.

"Our academic system has been influenced for 150 years by secularism," the official Islamic Republic News Agency quoted Ahmadinejad as telling a group of students. "We have started to make change happen, but we need special support for it," he said.

"Students should shout at the president and ask why liberal and secular university lecturers are present in the universities."

Ahmadinejad, as head of the country's Council of Cultural Revolution, has authority to make such changes himself. But it wasn't clear from his comments whether he intended to act or was urging students to rally to the cause.

Earlier this year, Iran retired dozens of liberal university professors and teachers. And last November, Ahmadinejad's administration for the first time named a cleric to head Tehran University despite protests by students.

Last month, the government ordered a raid to remove TV satellite dishes from homes in Tehran, saying they threaten the nation's psychological security. The dishes have mushroomed in the past decade.

Music, news and talk programs by dissident Iranian channels based abroad are the most popular of the foreign broadcasts.