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Talking politics at Tehran University

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2009-12-29

Just before Christmas, Iranian authorities granted FRANCE 24 journalists the right to to film for one hour at Tehran University. Here is an exclusive report on how students on campus are reacting to their country's explosive political situation.

Tehran University is Iran’s oldest university and has the best reputation. But students on campus, interviewed by FRANCE 24 just days before the start of violent protests on Dec. 27, are hesitant to talk about the explosive political situation in their country in front of foreign journalists.

“I don’t have an opinion on the question,” says one female student, when asked. “But there is complete freedom of speech here.”

Upon closer examinaton, however, political opinions can be found, even if they are expressed indirectly or privately. Students have gathered in memory of dissident cleric Ayatollah Montazeri, singing mourning songs and holding up portraits of the prominent opposition figure who died on Dec. 20.

Other students – dressed in Western fashions – agreed to talk to FRANCE 24 on condition of anonymity. One student points out the colour of her shoelaces: green - the rallying colour of the opposition that took to the streets following President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s contested re-election in June.

"There isn't even an office provided for the opposition at the University,” she says. “Those who oppose the regime can't express themselves.”

Another female student adds that an Islamic vigilance committee finds protesters and kicks them out of the university.

Among these outspoken students is one who wants to leave Iran to study in the United States. Another confesses that she spent a week in jail after taking part in the post-election street protests. She is still waiting for her trial.


Date created : 2009-12-29