TEHRAN - Nearly 90 professors at Tehran University have told Iran’s supreme leader that ongoing violence against protesters shows the weakness of the country’s leadership, a proreform website reported yesterday, reflecting a growing willingness to risk careers and studies to challenge the ruling clerics.
The rumblings from universities highlight the evolution of the opposition movement. What began as raw and angry voter backlash after last June’s disputed presidential election has moved to a possibly deeper and more ingrained fight against Iran’s Islamic leaders.
The letter signed by the 88 instructors was issued as university students around Iran staged acts of defiance - including hunger strikes and exam boycotts - to protest reported arrests and intimidation by hard-line forces, according to witnesses and reformist websites.
The government stepped up its accusations that the West is fomenting Iran’s postelection turmoil, saying that foreign nationals were among those arrested in the most recent clashes. Officials did not provide the nationalities of those arrested, but accused the foreigners of leading a propaganda war and warned they face possible death sentences for seeking to topple the system.
Opposition groups say that faculty members and students who publicly back the demonstrations have been fired or blocked from coveted postgraduate slots in state-run schools.