Iran’s Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani has lashed out at President Hassan Rouhani for a recent speech in which he said the Iranian government’s attempts to Islamize sciences has failed, calling Rouhani’s argument “vulgar.”
In a February 24 speech at the Kharazmi Science Festival in Tehran, broadcast live on Iran’s state-run news channel IRINN, Rouhani said spending large amounts of money on religious institutions has contributed nothing to the development of the country.
Criticizing Iran’s hardliners for supporting the Islamization of universities, Rouhani said: “There is no Islamic mathematics, physics, or chemistry,” adding that “Putting a Koran in a car’s glove compartment will not make that an Islamic car.”
Rouhani called for separating science from ideology, as well as for scientific cooperation between Iran and the world. He said the heavy monetary investment in the Islamization of the sciences by the government has failed.
Religious hardliners maintain that the seminaries can provide for the country’s scientific needs in place of Western-style universities.
Following the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran, hundreds of Islamic institutions were created with an aim to Islamize the sciences.
The Academy of Islamic Sciences and the Imam Khomeini Research Center run by hardline cleric Mohammad Taqi Mesbah Yazdi in the city of Qom are among these institutes, which are often criticized for producing nothing of scientific value.
The allocation of millions of dollars from this year’s national budget to such institutions elicited criticism in the media and enraged many Iranians who took to the streets during late December 2017 and early January 2018 to protest poverty and economic injustice, among other things.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his aides have repeatedly blamed Western sciences and humanities for negatively influencing Iran’s culture.
In 2014, hardline politician and close relative of Khamenei’s, Gholamali Haddad Adel, said that attempts to Islamize the sciences have indeed failed, but he promised a new round of measures would be taken to Islamize the sciences and reform academic institutions.
In his speech Rouhani also called on security and intelligence organization not to be suspicious of scientists and researchers. He criticized the pressure exerted on academics and students. Iranian media linked Rouhani’s statement to the recent detention of several academics in the field of environment on charges of “espionage.”
One of the arrested academics, Dr. Kavous Seyed Emami, died in custody in early February, with authorities calling his death a suicide, a claim human rights defenders reject.