The University of Freiburg in the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg suspended its academic program with the Iranian regime-controlled University of Isfahan because of political conflicts in Iran, The Jerusalem Post can reveal on Wednesday.
The Post located a webpage in Persian on the University of Isfahan’s website that showcases and celebrates the annual al-Quds rally that urges the elimination of the Jewish state. The webpage shows an al-Quds demonstration against Israel from 2021.
Bastian Strauch, a spokesman for the University of Freiburg, told the Post that the academic exchange program was suspended in 2019 because of “growing political conflicts in Iran” as well as conflicts in “bilateral educational cooperation between Iran and Germany.” Strauch added that “Only a few students are currently still attending the University of Freiburg. Students from Freiburg have not attended Isfahan University.”
The Iranian regime-controlled Metropolises News Agency (formerly called the Isfahan Municipality News Agency) reported in May on Isfahan celebrating al-Quds Day 2021. Mashregh News, a website close to the security and intelligence organizations in Iran, stressed when discussing the al-Quds Day rally in Isfahan in May “the necessity of liberating occupied Jerusalem.”
When asked about the new outbreak of genocidal antisemitism on the website of Isfahan University, Strauch said “The University of Freiburg strongly condemns all forms of antisemitism. In 2016, the university explicitly criticized Isfahan University and asked its management to distance itself from antisemitic tendencies, which the university subsequently did.”
The reference to 2016 appears to be when the Islamic Association of the University of Isfahan announced a Holocaust cartoon contest that has in the past mocked the Shoah and denied the existence of the Holocaust.
Strauch said that in order to “reactivate” the cooperation between Freiburg and Isfahan the partnership “would be examined in detail beforehand.” He said that academic cooperation would aim to support “marginalized science and civil society.”
Israel’s government told the Post that it seeks to isolate Iranian regime-controlled institutions and block their cooperation with the West due to Tehran’s nuclear program and ballistic missile program. German intelligence reports examined by the Post reveal the presence of pro-Islamic Republic Iranians in Germany who seek to extract knowledge and technology for the Islamic Republic’s military and nuclear programs.
Freiburg has maintained a controversial city partnership with the Iranian regime in Isfahan for nearly two decades. Freiburg is the only German city that has a twin-city partnership with an Iranian city.
Dr. Kazem Moussavi, a prominent Iranian dissident in Germany, told the Post that the authorities in Freiburg, including Freiburg's Mayor Martin Horn, should end the city's partnership with Isfahan. A spokeswoman for Horn said the partnership "serves to facilitate contacts and encounters between people."
The partnership prompted the political party Jupi to initiate resolutions in the Freiburg city council in 2020 and 2021, calling for an end to the partnership. In 2020, Jupi said Freiburg should pull the plug on the partnership because Iran’s regime engages in “Holocaust denial and the persecution of homosexuals, which cannot be the basis for a friendship.”The JUPI city council member Sergio Pax said at the time there “can be no dialogue” with Iran because it “does not recognize Israel’s right to exist.”
Within the Freiburg city council, the Green Party, the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the anti-immigration party Alternative for Germany (AfD) all support the partnership with Iran's regime in Isfahan.
In 2008, the Post reported that the University of Freiburg invited the Iranian regime's former president Mohammad Khatami to deliver a lecture on "Dialogue between the Islamic and Western World." Khatami has described Zionism as the "continuation of fascism" and defended the late French Holocaust denier and Islamist Roger Garaudy.
Iranian experts say that antisemitism has mushroomed in Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution. The revolution triggered the exodus of most Iranian Jews. Iran's regime refuses in Isfahan refuses to investigate the brutal murder in 2012 of the 57-year-old Jewish woman Toobah Nehdaran whose body was chopped in half.