Khamenei Criticized in Person

by Nazanin Kamdar
Monday, 2 November 2009


Mahmoud Vahidnia, a distinguished mathematics whiz from the Sharif Technical University, frankly criticized the supreme leader during his meeting with students, as state-run media outlets were unable to censor the remarks.

This international mathematics Olympiad winner blasted Khamenei in person in an unexpected move, focusing on “supreme leader’s performance” and the “lack of criticism against supreme leader.”

In addition to criticizing Khamenei personally and the office of the supreme leader, this student also criticized the state radio and television’s biased coverage of issues and the police’s brutal crackdown of people protesting against the election results.

Ayatollah Khamenei was forced to respond to the student’s criticism, but according to several eye-witness sources, the supreme leader was so distraught by the student’s remarks that he cancelled the usual prayer session and left the meeting early. Responding to Vahidnia’s frank criticism, Khamenei said that criticizing him is not illegal. However, he used harsh remarks to condemn the claim of election fraud as a “crime,” adding that he himself has criticisms against the state radio and television’s performance, one of which is directed at the organization’s failure to set aside enough coverage for the administration’s “positive achievements.”

Speaking to the website Alef, Vahidnia revealed further details about his conversation with the Islamic Republic supreme leader. He said that officials first barred him from speaking, but he was able to speak with the supreme leader’s agreement. He said that he was interrupted several times during his remarks by the event’s host for being “out of time.”

Vahidnia noted, “The things I said at the meeting were completely my personal beliefs. I didn’t coordinate with anyone and no one knew that I wanted to speak. Even my family was unaware of it.”

He also asked the supreme leader for an “actual response” to his criticisms.

Kayhan newspaper, which supports the coup perpetrators and is headed by Ayatollah Khamenei’s representative, published a report on Saturday titled, “The Revolutionary Leader’s Fatherly Response to Critical Youth,” claiming tat “several of the attendees protested the student’s remarks,” after briefly covering the substance of Vahidnias remarks.

Kayhan’s report was published while in the past three nights chants of “God is great,” “ya Hossein, Mir-Hossein” and “death to dictator” have been heard from the Sharif University student dormitories in support of Vahidnia. Some residents in neighboring areas have also resume their nightly rooftop chants.

The Islamic Republic radio and television broadcasted a censored version of the meeting as popular support for the critical student continues to grow.

So far, everyone who has criticized Khamenei personally has been severely punished. Two Rooz writers, Ahmad Zeidabadi and Isa Saharkhiz, are among such people who have been put under heavy pressure to issue apologies after being detained in the aftermath of the recent election. For this reason, many analysts have voiced their concern about Vahidnia’s fate in recent days.

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