Unemployment, poverty, answer us Rouhani! Students protested at a Tehran University speech Rouhani gave that only a select few were given permission to attend. Rouhani told his critics that if they wanted to express their views to him, they should write letters instead of going on the media.
A number of students protested at Hassan Rouhani’s speech at Tehran University. Rouhani spoke on October 14th at a ceremony marking the start of the academic year. At the same time, a protest rally was held behind the lecture hall doors. Protesters held banners criticizing Rouhani’s administration, especially its economic policies. “Economic problems are not solved by lectures,” “the university director does not understand the people’s pain,” and the “economic failure is equal to the increase in class size” were some of the protest signs. Students chanted slogans such as “Unemployment, High prices, answer us Rouhani! Students died”
Interestingly, the academics who arranged the lecture did not invite student groups critical of Rouhani to attend and preselected those present. According to reports, those protesting were reformist students who previously supported Rouhani.
Meanwhile, the police and university security guards came inside the campus. Keyvan Soleimani, Secretary General of Tehran University’s Justice Students Association said that only 20 students had the right to attend the ceremony, one per student group. Sajjad Raoufi, secretary of Tehran University’s Islamic society, said in an interview with Iranian media “On the occasion of the president’s visit to the university, we are seeing the establishing of security measures and intense guard of front of the central library. It is quite obvious the president has no confidence in the university’s own security.”
The student activist added: “Why is Rouhani so afraid that he sets up all these barriers for a few hours? The only word that can describe this space right now is garrison.”
As always, in the ceremony, Rouhani made strange claims, saying “We have progressed.” “In 2013, when I was elected, the dollar fell. When I formed my government two months later, the market stabilized and the dollar came back up!”
Rouhani also told his critics that if they wanted to criticize his policies, write it in letters to him rather than go on the media. “Sometimes it may be emotionally hard to criticize too much. When I read too many critiques in the newspapers or online, I put it away and say it’s enough, because I don’t have much time and too much criticism isn’t useful.”
Rouhani failed to even outline an economic program, saying “We will cross this path, even if we suffer a lot, we will do it. Despite all the disappointments, we will get through these conditions. Better days will come that are easier and less costly than today”
Hassan Rouhani also claimed the Islamic republic could defeat the United States. “In many places, we can defeat the United States. Someone might say, America is a superpower, with all the economic, political and military implications, you are a developing country, how can you defeat the United States? Well, in the past few months, America has failed to stop the Islamic republic of Iran. That is no my or your judgment, that is the judgment of the world.”
In another part of the speech, he blamed foreigners for the economic crisis saying “They consistently click their cameras, taking pictures of empty shelves, when supplies for a month came in and were going to be restocked in 3 days. Who does this? Is it the government or the people or foreigners? I do intend to discuss it further.”
Rouhani added another lie, without mentioning the censoring of Telegram, he claimed his administration created cyberspace. “Cyberspace was created during the eleventh and twelfth governments (presidential terms since the beginning of the Islamic republic), because we were looking for virtual spaces for science and universities”
Without mentioning the students arrested over the past months, or the intense security atmosphere set up at his arrival, he said “We are not asking for university security!”
Rouhani’s speech consisted of repeating previous promises and his typical indecisive statements, which show that he himself no longer believes his regime can bring the country out of the economic crisis.
Translated from Persian by Banafsheh Zand.