At the heart of political resistance and struggle against despotism and imperialism , the Islamic Students Association (ISA) is a six to seven decade long student movement in Iran. I was invited to speak for an audience of 500 freshmen students newly enrolled and members of the ISA from Tehran University on Thursday. I had to address a very lively and youthful audience on the history and features of the student movement in Iran.
During the Shah's regime, alongside communist activists the ISA formed the major focal points of dissent and resistance. The culmination of their protests and strikes in the universities led to the victory of the Islamic Revolution. Many from the ISA were imprisoned and tortured by the dictatorial regime of the Shah.
After the Revolution, the ISA continued on an independent path to promote a progressive democratic and revolutionary interpretation of the Revolution and Islamic tenants. They faced many pressures from governments which did not approve of their critical and independent positions. The culmination of these pressures led to the 18 th of Tir event in which students faced both physical and psychological trauma.
I spoke about these developments and criticized the current government for some of its policies in curbing the freedom of speech in society and particularly in universities. I also spoke about the generational gap and the need to understand our history and culture and to deal with the globalizing world while preserving our identity and heritage.
The students were constantly responding to my political references to the criticisms of the current government and also to my references to the former President Khatami. They repeated their applause for the political views I was elaborating and seemed very excited about the possibility that Khatami would nominate himself for the upcoming elections.
I am not sure that everybody here in the political spheres of Iran would welcome the idea.