US embassy cable - 87ISTANBUL2686

CONVERSATION WITH FEMALE UNIVERSITY OF TEHRAN PROFESSOR

Identifier: 87ISTANBUL2686
Wikileaks: View 87ISTANBUL2686 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Consulate Istanbul
Created: 1987-06-08 08:18:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PGOV PINS IR TU
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
R 080818Z JUN 87
FM AMCONSUL ISTANBUL
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 7382
AMEMBASSY ANKARA
AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
AMCONSUL IZMIR
AMCONSUL ADANA
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ISTANBUL 02686 
 
DEPT FOR NEA/NGA, INR 
 
E.O. 12356: DECL: OADR 
TAGS: PGOV, PINS, IR, TU 
SUBJ: CONVERSATION WITH FEMALE UNIVERSITY OF 
      TEHRAN PROFESSOR 
 
1.  CONFIDENTIAL - ENTIRE TEXT. 
 
2.  SUMMARY.  CONOFF SPOKE WITH A 32 YEAR OLD 
IRANIAN FEMALE PROFESSOR WHO TEACHES MANAGEMENT 
AT AL ZAHRAH UNIVERSITY AND ENGLISH LITERATZE 
AT TEHRAN UNIVERSITY.  SHE DESCRIBED CONDITIONS 
IN TEHRAN AND AT THE UNIVERSITY.  DURING ONE 
VERY EMOTIONAL MOMENT SHE COMPLAINED THAT THE 
CURRENT SITUATION IS THE RESULT OF WESTERN 
INTERFERENCE IN IRANIAN INTERNAL POLITICAL 
AFFAIRS.  END SUMMARY. 
 
3.  CONOFF SPOKE BRIEFLY WITH A 32 YEAR OLD FEMALE 
PROFESSOR FROM AL ZAHRAH (WOMEN'S) UNIVERSITY IN 
THE VANAK NEIGHBORHOOD OF TEHRAN.  SHE ALSO TEACHES 
AT TEHRAN UNIVERSITY.  SHE TEACHES 12 HOURS PER 
WEEK AT AL ZAHRAH THE FORMER FARAH UNIVERSITY, 
WHICH IS A WOMEN ONLY UNIVERSITY AND 8 HOURS PER 
WEEK AT TEHRAN UNIVERSITY.  IN TEHRAN UNIVERSITY 
SHE IS ONE OF 30 FEMALE FACULTY MEMBERS IN THE 
DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH LITERATURE. 
 
4.  SHE SAID THAT MOST OF THE STUDENTS ENROLLED 
IN COURSES IN THE ENGLISH LITERATURE DEPARTMENT 
ARE LEARNING ENGLISH TO ENABLE THEM TO STUDY 
ADVANCED COURSE WORK IN OTHER FACULTIES, WHICH 
USE TEXTS AND RESEARCH MATERIALS PUBLISHED IN 
ENGLISH.  ALTHOUGH THE CLASSROOMS AND LECTURE HALLS 
ARE CO-ED THE MALE STUDENTS SIT ON ONE SIDE OF THE 
ROOM AND THE FEMALE STUDENTS SIT IN A GROUP ON THE 
OPPOSITE SIDE.  ALL FEMALE STUDENTS AND FEMALE 
FACULTY HAVE TO WEAR "APPROPRIATE ISLAMIC DRESS." 
WHEN ASKED IF SHE WAS TREATED WITH RESPECT BY THE 
MALE STUDENTS SHE SAID THAT SHE HAS NEVER HAD A 
PROBLEM. 
 
5.  INFORMANT TOLD CONOFF THAT IT IS HER OPINION 
THAT THE MAJORITY OF UNIVERSITY STUDENTS IN IRAN HAVE 
CONNECTION TO THE ISLAMIC REPUBLICAN PARTY, A CERTAIN 
MULLAH, OR IN SOME WAY HAVE CONVINCED OFFICIALS OF 
THEIR STRONG ISLAMIC BELIEFS.  SHE ADDED, HOWEVER, 
THAT MOST PEOPLE IN IRAN ARE TIRED OF THE REGIME, 
A COMMENT WE HAVE HEARD NUMEROUS TIMES FROM A WIDE 
ASSORTMENT OF PEOPLE.  PEOPLE HAVE TO ACT FAITHFUL 
AND "PRETEND TO FOLLOW THOSE STUPID, CRAZY MULLAHS, 
BUT THE MAJORITY NO LONGER BELIEVES IN THE GOVERNMENT. 
HOW CAN THEY WHEN THINGS ARE SO EXPENSIVE AND ALL 
THOSE BOYS ARE DYING IN THAT SENSELESS WAR IN BASRA." 
 
6.  WHEN ASKED WHY THE REGIME IS ALLOWED TO CONTINUE 
IF SO MANY PEOPLE DISLIKE IT SHE SAID THAT EVERYONE 
IS AFRAID.  "IF YOU GO ALONG WITH THEM THEY WON'T 
HURT YOU AND THERE IS ALWAYS SOME BENEFIT, LIKE THE 
STUDENTS GETTING ACCEPTED INTO UNIVERSITY."  SHE 
ADDED, "THE PEOPLE KNOW THAT IF THEY DEMONSTRATE 
KHOMEINI WILL KILL THEM.  SHE POINTED OUT THAT THE 
SHAH CONTINUED TO PAY STRIKING WORKERS AND ADDED 
"IF HIS TROOPS HAD KILLED A FEW THOUSAND HE WOULD 
STILL BE IN POWER.  KHOMEINI WOULD DO THAT WITHOUT 
THINKING ABOUT IT.  THAT'S WHY NO ONE TRIES TO 
CHANGE THE GOVERNMENT." 
 
7.  SHE SAID THAT THIS YEAR APPROXIMATELY 600,000 
STUDENTS WOULD TAKE PART IN THE NATION-WIDE 
UNIVERSITY ENTRANCE EXAMS BUT ONLY 40,000 TO 50,000 
WOULD BE ACCEPTED.  "THIS AND THE WAR IS WHY YOUP 
HAVE SO MANY YOUNG PEOPLE OUT IN THE WAITING ROOM," 
SHE SAID.  "DO YOU BLAME THEM?  IF THEY DON'T GET 
ADMITTED TO A UNIVERSITY WHAT CAN THEY DO, THERE 
ARE NO JOBS."  WHEN ASKED HER OPINION OF THE NIV 
APPLICANTS SHE SAID," I TOLD YOU.  THERE ARE NO 
JOBS.  FOR THE BOYS IF THEY CAN'T GO TO SCHOOL 
WHAT IS LEFT?  GOING TO THE MILITARY." 
 
8.  INFORMANT SAID THAT FEMALE UNIVERSITY FACULTY 
ARE PAID SALARIES EQUAL TO THAT OF MALE COUNTERPARTS 
AND THERE IS NO OPEN DISCRIMINATION, HOWEVER, "THEY 
DO THINGS, LITTLE THINGS TO UPSET YOU." 
A FACULTY MEMBER IS ONLY ALLOWED TO TEACH 24 HOURS PER 
WEEK, BUT THEY TRY TO FIND EXCUSES TO KEEP WOMEN 
FROM CARRYING A FULL LOAD. "HAVING HAIR EXPOSED 
COULD BE GROUNDS FOR DISCIPLINARY ACTION, SUCH AS 
HAVING A COURSE TAKEN AWAY FROM YOUR SCHEDULE." 
SHE TOLD CONOFF THAT MOST STUDENTS ARE BIDDING THEIR 
TIME, HOPING THE ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS 
WILL IMPROVE BY THE TIME THEY GRADUATE.  SHE BELIEVES 
THAT THE AVERAGE STUDENT IS WEAKER AND LESS MOTIVATED 
THAN IN THE PAST.  "THERE REALLY ISN'T MUCH INCENTIVE 
TO EXCELL." 
 
9.  AFTER LENGTHY QUESTIONING SHE JOKED THAT CONOFF 
SHOULD TELL HER WHEN THE U.S. PLANS TO TOPPLE 
KHOMEINI.  WE FIND IT INTERESTING THAT MANY IRANIANS 
INCLUDING EDUCATED AND WESTERN-ORIENTED PROFESSIONALS 
SUCH AS THIS PROFESSOR BELIEVE THAT THE SHAH'S 
DOWNFALL WAS BROUGHT ABOUT BY THE U.S. OR A 
COMBINATION OF WESTERN POWER BROKERS.  WHEN 
CONOFF REMINDED HER THAT THERE WERE NO AMERICANS 
IN IRAN TO PROVIDE US INFORMATION SHE LAUGHED AND 
SAID, "YOU DON'T HAVE TO HAVE AN AMERICAN TO TELL 
YOU WHAT IS GOING ON; THE CIA DOESN'T USE JUST 
AMERICANS.  I'M SURE THAT YOU OR SOMEONE IN YOUR 
GOVERNMENT KNOWS JUST AS MUCH AS RAFSANJANI AND 
KHOMEINI DO ABOUT MY COUNTRY." 
 
10.  COMMENT.  IN THE IRANIAN WORLDVIEW THERE IS 
ALWAYS SOMEONE OR SOMETHING ELSE TO BLAME FOR 
ONE'S MISFORTUNES.  THIS MAY BE A RULER, A BOSS, 
THE WEATHER OR FATE IN GENERAL.  IT IS INTERESTING, 
HOWEVER, THAT SO MANY IRANIANS BELIEVE THAT THE 
U.S. INTERESTS ARE ENHANCED BY PROLONGING THE WAR 
BETWEEN IRAN AND IRAQ AND BY KEEPING KHOMEINI IN 
POWER.  END COMMENT. 
 
RAU 

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