Khameneh’ie got a surprise from a Math Student at Sharif U of Tech.

October 31, 2009

‌Background: There has been a meeting between “elite” [students] and Khameneh’ie and what you read is what happened in this meeting. In the education obsessed Iranian culture, the term elite that we are hearing more these days, is usually used to refer to gifted students and highly educated people. I remember from my time being there, It was very important to be in the national team for International scientific Olympiads (such as Math and Physics) every year they choose 7 students (after multiple exams ) to participate in the international competition (after one year of fierce training), those who made it to the team, are the “geek celebrities” and they all ended up going to Sharif University of Tech (an elite science and tech university in Iran) for their undergrad studies and after that to continue their education at Ivy leage schools in the US ( and usually stay there, thanks to the “elite” firendly governmnet in Iran!) . As a pure populist government, Ahmadinejad’s government tried to show himself as a “pro-elite” administration, however ironically his interior minister got sacked for having a fake PhD from Oxford. What you read below is a quick (partial) translation from Farsi of the personal account of someone who has been in that meeting and is narrating the story of a Math student at Sharif U of Tech. (also reportedly a Medalist in the International Mathematics Olympiad) who proves that his heart is as big as his brain , I wish the best for him and hope he is safe and sound. And I want him to know that our thoughts are with him.

At the end of the meeting, Khameneh’ie asked:” is there any other questions? ”

The exact moment that Khameneh'ie pointed at Mahmood Vahidnia

Some people rose their hands and one person stood up. Khameneh’ie let him go to the podium and ask his question. This student calmly gave harsh criticism to Khameneh’ie. He introduced himself as a student in Mathematics at Sharif University of Technology. He said: those who were here as representative of “elite” students and read something from paper, were not representative of all “elite” students , we did not choose them , at this point everyone in the room applauded him and he continued


Mahmood Vahidnia , Math Student at Sharif U

what I am going to say is different from what other friends said. I divide my question into three categories

1 – unfortunately the state-run media (“Seda o Sima”-TV and Radio) does not reflect what is going on in the country. Do you think if the media faithfully reported on what happened in this country (post-election unrest ) ? or was it distorted? although I am putting this in question form but what I really mean is clear! unfortunately when the main media and most important element in informing the public is behaving like this, we cant expect anything better from smaller media in the country. The state-run media (“Seda o Sima” ) is directly under your order and you appoint its head. So now there are only two cases: Either they do this under your order, or you don’t know what is going on there.
The question is, in the past 30 years, has our society moved towards being more Islamic and ethical? If the answer is even a partial “no” then we have to doubt our actions in the past 30 years.

2- I will raise the second problem by an analogy. In a family … if the father of the family uses violence towards the younger son, then the older brother learns to be violent towards his younger brother. Now, that you are like a father, when your attitude towards people who oppose you is like this, those under you take up the same attitude and we all know what happened in the prisons. Regarding what happened in the prisons , I remember that in one of your speeches you said that we will confront those who were responsible but …. I personally was in one of those silent protests. Plainclothes and men in uniform attacked us and beat all of us.

3 – I don’t know why in this country nobody is allowed to criticize you? I have been reading the press for the past 5 years and did not see anyone criticizing you even the assembly of experts, whose job is to supervise the leaderships action,s in practice has never criticized anything that you have done.

During his talk, Basijis tried to interrupt him shouting that time is up , stop it ,…  someone gave him a piece of paper. and he turned to Khamenhe’is and said they are telling me that my time is up , but if you allow me there is more that I want to talk about. Basijis tried to interrupt him again. Khameneh’is said well from the very beginning we were out of time, but now you can continue your questions, this was accompanied with long applause by those present in the meeting . Khameneh’s started answering him and he said we did not want this kind of issues to be raised in here and we liked to talk about problems that our “elite” are facing and talk about science and in response to the student said what we all heard on TV [note: the state media did not show the student who asked the questions but only showed Khameneh’s response ]
he said: who says nobody criticizes us? ! I have asked them to establish a “chair for freedom of thoughts” in universities [!!] why didn’t you do that? go and criticise ….

and after Khameneh’s disappeared . based on the plan there was supposed to be a prayer with Khameneh’s as the Imam but they said that the plan has changed and there is no prayer …
I did not see the student who asked the questions after that

Side Note: Interestingly a day after this incident, Ahmadinejad who was visiting the province of Khorasan, in a speech said , that “we need to change the definition of elite!” , those who can not see the difference between friend and enemy are not the elite, and it doesn’t matter what kind of university degrees they have”

Here you can see the BBC Persian report on this