Moderate cleric Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani was faced with protests at Amir Kabir University on Monday May 4 during his speech to mark National Teachers’ Day.
The event was delayed as a group of protesters tried to prevent his entry into the university by creating a human chain at the building entrance.
The protesters chanted slogans condemning Hashemi Rafsanjani’s support for the 2009 election protests, saying “seditious elements” have no place in universities.
Another group chanted slogans in support of Ayatollah Rafsanjani.
Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani was severely attacked by Islamic Republic hardliners in the years following the 2009 election protests for supporting the reformists and their allegations of vote fraud.
Reports indicate that Hashemi Rafsanjani’s speech was presented under strict security measures and he was again met by protesters on his way out of the venue.
The head of the Expediency Council was invited by the head of Amir Kabir University to speak on the occasion of National Teachers’ Day.
Protesters have criticized the university’s decision to deny speech permits to critics of the Rohani administration, such as Keyhan editor in chief Hossein Shariatmadari and MP Mehrdad Bazrpash, even as it forwarded invitations to reformist figures such as former MP Mohammadreza Khatami and MP Ali Motahari.
Motahari, a vocal critic of the Islamic Republic who has called for more openness in the political arena and even the possibility of being free to criticize the Supreme Leader, was attacked in Shiraz by a crowd rallied by hardliners as he travelled to speak at Shiraz University. He was prevented from giving his talk.
Conservative factions around the country are hard at work to keep reformists from finding platforms to campaign from in view of the parliamentary elections coming in March 2016.