Azad University, future not so free

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

Azad means free, and Iran’s Azad University, the largest in the Middle East, has been free from government control since it’s founding in 1982. But it looks like its days of being truly ‘azad’ are numbered. During last year’s massive show down between moderates and conservatives over the presidential election, Azad University was seen as a support base for the reformers, and since then as more sympathetic to the veteran pragmatist Hashem Rafsanjani who has been urging President Ahmadinejad to show restraint. Wanting to ensure moderates do not have access to such an influential support base in the future, the conservatives have argued before the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamanei, that the endowments received by the university are illegal. The Supreme Leader has now decided in their favour. The endowments are illegal and he has said that the university in the future will no longer be private. It is unlikely this will impact the 1.3 million students studying at the university, but it will make it much easier for the government to stop opposition politicians benefiting from the institutions funds and networks. For Christians, like other ordinary Iranians, it is important to have access to higher education. Hopefully this probably takeover will not make that even more frustrating for them as a religious minority.

Pray for

  • Leaders of this important university
  • That courses keep on running, whatever the political weather
  • Christians to have easy access to higher education.