BERLIN – Iran’s ambassador to Finland, Seyed Rasoul Mousavi, intervened at the
Finnish National Defense University to compel the removal of a research paper
from the university’s website, because the document critically examined Iran’s
nuclear program and its treatment of Israel, women and minorities.
research paper was removed on Saturday.
The Iran expert and researcher
Alan Salehzadeh wrote in his 42- page study, entitled “Iran’s Domestic and
Foreign Policies,” that “ Iran does not approve of the existence of Israel and
wishes to see it destroyed.”
He told the Finnish public broadcasting news
outlet Yle: “If this is a question of censorship in Finland, that’s a real
He asked, “Why was the research taken down right after Mousavi’s
visit?” Speaking with The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday from Helsinki via telephone,
Pekka Sivonen, a strategic studies professor at the Defense University, said he
is “unhappy about this” and it is “pretty obvious this meeting [with Iran’s
ambassador] had an influence.”
Though Sivonen did not participate in the
meeting with Iran’s ambassador, he told the Post that he is confident that the
university “shall correct the decision.”
Yle reported that the rector of
the university, Veijo Taipalus, met with Defense Minister Carl Haglund on Monday
to discuss the removal of the report.
The news outlet wrote that Haglund
said Iran’s embassy triggered the decision to reassess the report.
noted that “Haglund added that it is a matter of interpretation whether or not
Iran brought pressure to bear on the university.”
Haglund told Yle, “It
is good that Iran itself doesn’t feel this was a matter of pressure. On the
other hand, the fact that the ambassador himself demanded a meeting with the
rector shows that this is an important issue for Iran.”
telephone with the Post on Wednesday, the university’s research director Hannu
Kari said that the article is being examined to see if “the references and
argumentation can be followed.”
Kari said he was present at the meeting
with Iran’s ambassador, who did not agree with statements in the report about
Iran’s “foreign and domestic” policies.
Kari claimed that the university
removed the research paper independent of any Iranian government
“It is, of course, good that the rector wants to play it safe,
but it is undeniable that the picture created is not good, and it is certain
that the university should give consideration to how such matters are handled in
future,” Haglund said.
“In my research I wrote about Iran’s nuclear
program and women’s and minorities’ position. Every claim has a source; I didn’t
invent anything,” said Salehzadeh.
He wrote, “[A woman] must wear the
Islamic hijab when outside; otherwise, she will be strictly
Women cannot run for presidency.
Women cannot be the
head of the justice department. Their access to most of the key positions in the
country is restricted.”
Gerald Steinberg, professor of political science
at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, told the Post, “Universities have a
fundamental obligation to be entirely apolitical, and to demonstrate the absence
of any Iranian influence in this case.
Claims by university officials,
without documentation and transparency, are insufficient. Indeed, the recent
report on extensive UK university funding from totalitarian regimes highlights
the need for transparency. The Iranian regime clearly has an incentive to press
Finnish university officials to suppress this material.”
report noted: “Now Iran is widely thought to pose a threat to its surrounding
countries, Israel, and the rest of the world. Iran is known to support terrorist
organizations and causes great concern with its urge to build a nuclear
He cited Iran’s support for Hezbollah.
The EU designated
Hezbollah’s military wing a terrorist entity in July.
With respect to
resolving the nuclear crisis in Iran, Salehzadeh, wrote, “One of the reasons
President Hassan Rouhani was elected was that he should find through
negotiations a common path with the West and thus the international community
would lighten or cease the sanctions. However, a common path is likely to be
found only when Iran stops enriching uranium. Iran is not likely to do that. It
remains to be seen whether Rouhani, an experienced diplomat and negotiator, is
able to persuade the West to abolish the sanctions.”
administration is slated to meet on Friday to discuss the reposting of