Why did we protest holding World Philosophy Day in Tehran? To organize a philosophy congress in a country where a theocratic and intolerant regime continually denies freedom of thought and expression and is engaged in removing the humanities from university curricula—that is a challenge to philosophy itself. In a country where students of philosophy like Neda Agha Soltan are shot and philosophy professors are accused of preparing a “Velvet Revolution,” it would be difficult to take seriously an invitation to Tehran for a free philosophical discussion. To make sure that the UNESCO Philosophy Day would be a pure product of the Iranian establishment, President Ahmadinejad replaced Gholamreza Aavani—head of the Iranian Institute of Philosophy and director of the Iranian Philosophical Association—as the head of the organizing committee with Gholam Ali Haddad Adel, the former chairman of the Iranian parliament and the father in-law of Mojtaba Khamenei, the son of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran. On August 30, 2009, Ayatollahi Khamenei addressed a gathering of professors and university administrators with a stern warning. He blamed the humanities for promoting “skepticism and doubt in religious principles and beliefs” and called on faithful professors to “identify the enemy” and revise the philosophy courses that create “lack of faith” among Iranian students.
more from Ramin Jahanbegloo at Dissent here.