An Iranian professor landed in hot water again for criticizing the government and remains under threat of imprisonment.
By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
An Iranian professor from Tehran University is making the conservative rulers of the Islamic Republic and their media mouthpieces very angry again, according to a Jerusalem Post report Thursday.
Sadegh Zibakalam, a prominent political science professor and writer on Iranian contemporary politics, sent out a tweet last Thursday after Israel hit dozens of Iranian Guard targets in Syria, questioning why his country was involved in military action against the Jewish state.
“If, God forbid, there is a war between us and Israel, we will have to tell future generations why we fought a war with a country 200 kilometers away that never threatened us or had any other dispute with us,” Zibakalam wrote on Twitter on May 10. “What were all those casualties, and the billions of dollars in military expenditures for?”
His account has reportedly been inundated with some 2,500 comments, shared by Israel’s official Twitter account in Persian – and attracted the ire of several pro-regime newspaper columnists.
One defended the government’s aggressive stance by noting several supposed misdeeds on Israel’s part, such as its “crimes against oppressed Palestinians” as well as its alleged assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists and purported attempts to “strike [Iran’s] interests in the region.”
In response, Zibakalam posted a rhetorical query Wednesday that was reminiscent of the charges of adventurism flung at the ayatollahs during popular protests that spread across the country last December.
“I have a simple question: Who gave us the responsibility for destroying Israel?” he tweeted. “Have the Iranian people held a referendum and asked the government to do this?”
An Iranian court actually sentenced the professor in March to 18 months in prison for spreading “false information” and “propaganda against the Islamic Republic” when he gave an interview to a German news program criticizing the government’s actions and supporting the demonstrators during those protests.
Zibakalam is in the midst of appealing the ruling, which would also ban him from giving interviews, publishing articles — or being active on social networks.
The professor, however, clearly is not laying low in fear of a negative verdict. The producer of the show which got him in trouble, “Deutsche Welle,” granted him 2018 Freedom of Speech Award.
The professor has also often courageously spoken against his country’s nuclear program, with a different 18-month sentence changed to a fine in 2014 based on his criticism.
This is also not the first time he has mentioned Israel. In February 2014, he stated that he recognizes Israel as a state because the United Nations does.