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Outspoken Iran Professor Receives One Year Prison Sentence

Sadeq Zibakalam, professor of political science at Tehran University is a rare case of an individual allowed to criticize the regime in Iran, undated. File

A well-known and outspoken professor at Tehran University says he has received another prison term for expressing his opinions.

Sadeq (Sadegh) Zibakalam told IRNA news website on August 16 that after he published a post on his Instagram account comparing the cost of hiring 300,000 new clergymen to the budget of three poor provinces in Iran, he was accused of “spreading lies for the purpose of agitating the public” by the conservative judiciary.

Zibakalam is a unique personality in Iran for his unabashed criticism of policies and comments that would easily land others in jail. Some believe his outspokenness is tolerated as a “safety valve” in the restricted environment of the Islamic Republic.

He is often invited by the state broadcaster to appear on radio or television programs, where he speaks critically against conservative and hardliner ideas; a rare occurrence in Iran.

A cleric had suggested hiring an additional 300,000 clergymen to oversee public morality and Zibakalam had published a short article arguing that the cost of such a move would be more than the budget of each of the three poorest provinces in the country.

Zibakalam has a previous 18-month prison term for “propaganda against the regime”, which has not been implemented.