The following piece of news, in my humble opinion, deserves more mention in the math blogosphere than it has garnered so far. At the center of the story is an Iranian student of mathematics, Mahmoud Vahidnia, who was invited to a meeting between Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the country’s scientific elite on Oct 28, 2009. An excerpt from a Guardian report on what transpired during a (perhaps, routine) question and answer session:
“I don’t know why in this country it’s not allowed to make any kind of criticism of you,” he told Iran’s most powerful cleric, who has the final say in all state matters. “In the past three to five years that I have been reading newspapers, I have seen no criticism of you, not even by the assembly of experts [a clerical body with the theoretical power to sack the leader]. I feel that if this doesn’t happen this situation will lead to discord and grudge.”
Vahidnia, who achieved nationwide recognition two years ago by winning Iran’s annual mathematics Olympiad, made his remarks at a meeting between Khamenei and the country’s scientific elite. They came after the supreme leader asked at the end of a question-and-answer session if anyone else wanted to speak. He chose Vahidnia after seeing him being pushed down by officials when he stood to ask a question.
Referring to the post-election crackdown sanctioned by Khamenei, he asked: “Wouldn’t our system have a better chance of preserving itself if we were using more satisfactory methods and limited the use of violence only to essential circumstances?”
I discovered the above piece of news “accidentally” via the Colbert Nation. The Associated Press also did a report. I wonder if our Iranian readers (if there is any!) could furnish more information on this.