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Critics Say Negative References To Russia Omitted From Iranian Textbooks


Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (R) meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Tehran, November 1, 2017

Deputy head of the Islamic Republic's Organization for Educational Research and Planning (OERP) has denied that school text-books have been changed in the country to "curry favor with Moscow and exonerate it from the historical crimes the Russian Empire committed in Iran."

Speaking at an academic session on Sunday, February 16, Hassan Maleki insisted that a series of references to Russia in Iranian school-books were merely omitted to "decrease the volume" of the textbooks.

Furthermore, he dismissed the critics of the "omissions", describing them as suffering from pessimism and psychological problems.

Earlier, in a series of tweets, an expert in educational affairs, Adel Barkam, had disclosed that some of the topics related to Russia's historical crimes against Iran had been omitted from the second volume of the Persian textbook for the eleventh grade.

In the tweets published on February 2, Barkam circulated images of the book's pages and noted that not only some of the paragraphs related to Russia had been dropped, but some others had also been edited.

In the new version of the textbook, Barkam argued, the word "Russians" has replaced the term "Russian Army."

As another example, Barkam highlighted a paragraph in the older textbook that says, "Soon, the flag of Russians was raised over the soil soaked with the blood of innocent people."

The sentence in the new edition of the book was changed to, "Soon, the Russian Army conquered the region."

The obvious changes, all in favor of Russia have triggered a barrage of criticism in recent days in Iran.

The Islamic Republic officials have repeatedly tried to play down the changes, dismissing them as "minor amendments."

Ali Zou-Elm, the Director of the Iranian Organization for Educational Research and Planning, insisted on February 4, "Our fundamental view, about what has happened in history, is that Tsarist Russia's crimes could not be omitted (from the text-books). We also do not deny that the Eastern Bloc's style of interaction was hegemonic under the Soviet Union. We'll never omit them (from the text-books)."

Disregarding the obvious changes presented by the critics, the mid-ranking cleric referred to Moscow-Tehran friendly relations, maintaining, "The fact that the Russian Federation is currently working and interacting with Iran does not mean that a period of history could be ignored. We disapprove of manipulation of history."

Nevertheless, it is crystal clear that the Islamic Republic has started implementing a comprehensive plan to restructure its approach towards the educational text-books, critics say.

Late last January it was announced that the Islamic Republic was set to add "America's Crimes and Conspiracies" as a new topic to the curriculum of local schools and universities, according to a decision by parliament.

The new topic will be taught at universities from the next Iranian academic year, September 23, 2020, the General Manager of Higher Education Planning Department at the Islamic Republic Ministry of Science, Research and Technology (MSRT) announced on January 23.

Meanwhile, according to critics, many classic Persian masterpieces have been replaced by propaganda pieces in favor of the clergy-dominated establishment in Iran.

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