Iranian President Hassan Rohani told a gathering of students at Sanati Sharif University that the university is the best place to critique power.

Hassan Rohani

Hassan Rohani

In a speech on December 7 marking National Students’ Day in Iran, he said: “Perhaps the best place to critique power is the university, and if power is not critiqued and questioned, it will turn into despotism.”

He went on to say that all officials should be held accountable for their responsibilities and no one should be exempt from answering to the public. “None of us is a saint or free of mistakes. But we are all taking steps for the benefit of the public.”

The Iranian president also said: “We want safe universities and not security-laden ones.”

The National Students’ Day was not without controversy. ILNA reports that at Allameh Tabatabai University, speeches scheduled for the day’s events were stopped by an unidentified group using pepper spray and violence.