We are all Iranians

We are all Iranians

Nature (Editorial) :

Research bodies and universities — and perhaps a few Nobel laureates — need to speak out louder. They should encourage, rather than discourage, collaboration, and replace past discrimination by welcoming Iranian researchers and students.

With the continuing Iranian crackdown on academics, for example, an exodus of young researchers can be expected. They will need the kind of assistance being provided by organizations such as the Scholars at Risk Network based in New York, an international network of universities and colleges that helps to find work for researchers seeking political asylum anywhere in the world. The international research community should find ways to support and expand such efforts. Likewise, with Iran’s decision on Monday to confirm the re-election — albeit under a cloud of illegitimacy — of Ahmadinejad, who is backed by the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who controls nuclear policy, hopes for intergovernmental progress on curbing Iran’s nuclear ambitions have been dealt a severe setback. The research community should thus do everything possible to promote continued contacts with colleagues in Iran, if only to promote détente between Iran and the West when relations are bellicose.

Meanwhile, the diaspora of Iranian academics is playing a key part in helping to get across the complexity of the situation in Iran. In informal public meetings, newspaper opinion pieces and discussions with governments and reporters, they say that, in contrast to what is often reported by Western media, the uprising has little to do with any desire to topple the regime. It is above all a broad civil-rights movement that extends far beyond the ‘Twittering’ classes. It is led by young people — 70% of Iranians are under 30 — who are not ideologically motivated, but instead are hungry for the greater freedoms that were one of the main, but unrealized, goals of the 1979 Iranian revolution. The majority of Iranian scientists are behind the movement.

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