While protest assemblies against Rouhani’s nominee for heading the Science Ministry have gained momentum at universities around Iran, the candidate, Mansour Gholami, has maintained that no student at Bu Ali Sina University in the city of Hamadan has ever been disciplined for political activities under his management.
Hundreds of students at universities in the cities of Tehran, Qazvin, and Mashhad have staged protests against Gholami in recent days.
Meanwhile, according to Iran’s semi-official labor news agency, ILNA, three student associations at Tehran’s Amir Kabir University wrote a letter on October 25 calling Gholami to attend a gathering on October 28 and answer students’ questions.
“Instead of lobbying, behind the scenes consultations, imposing pressure to break students’ unity and silence their protests at the universities, you should attend Saturday’s gathering and deliver coherent answers to their questions,” read the letter.
The associations also referred to protests against Gholami’s nomination by 145 student associations and more than 3,000 activist members of Rouhani’s May 19 presidential election.
Furthermore, the students accuse Gholami of not signing the license for a reformist students’ association, not supporting student rights activities, inappropriate confrontations with students, and installing an individual close to the Front of Islamic Revolution Stability, an ultraconservative group, as cultural deputy for Bu Ali Sina University.
However, on October 24, at a meeting with the Iranian Parliament’s Omid (Hope) faction, Gholami dismissed the criticisms.
“Any legal activity at the universities should be free, and we will not allow anybody to prevent it,” Gholami affirmed.
The students immediately fired back by publishing a copy of Bu Ali Sina’s Disciplinary Committee ban against a student for a semester, allegedly for supporting protests against the outcome of the 2009 presidential election.
After meeting Gholami, a member of Omid, Shiraz MP Bahram Parsaei, also announced, “Regarding the many complications related to the management of the Science Ministry, many concerns have not yet been addressed.”
Gholami ranked 21st among Rouhani’s candidates for managing the ministry, according to Parsaei.
Based on Iran’s constitution, the president does not need to seek the approval of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for his cabinet nominees, but per tradition he pre-approves candidates for key ministries, including the Science Ministry.
Khamenei’s official website allows that he is “sensitive” when it comes to nominating candidates for managing the ministries of Defense, Foreign Affairs, Science, Education, Culture and Islamic Guidance.
When Rouhani presented his new cabinet on August 8 to the parliament, he left the position of science minister vacant. The vacancy indicated that Rouhani had not reached a compromise with the Khamenei over the post.
Keeping the position vacant was followed by bitter criticism from reformists and pro-reform political figures including Tehran’s outspoken MP and deputy parliament speaker Ali Motahari, who said the vacancy was illegal.
Another reformist MP, Mahmoud Sadeqi, also declared, “Gholami is far from our ideal nominee. Nevertheless, seeing as nominating our 10 to 12 other candidates led nowhere, Gholami might be an acceptable choice.”