Stopping Censorship: Academics Hold the Key

Stopping Censorship: Academics Hold the Key

It was not the first time that it was reported, but it was shocking nonetheless. In May 2005, German journalists working in Iran published an article about the usage of censorship in Iranian schools and universities. It seemed that books were selectively chosen on their pro-Islamic and their anti-western stand. It did not matter if certain books were needed for university education; the only thing important for the Iranian Heads of Education was the fact that their students had to be protected against the so-called wicked ideas of the west.

Obviously, most people already knew that the Iranian regime never cared about unbiased academic education anyway, but the fact that the practice of censorship had increased so much in Iranian educational institutions was unheard of. Unfortunately, there are signals that more countries, under the influence of totalitarian views, have turned to censoring books and academic programs. The phenomenon that all over the world people are getting degrees after following an incompetent academic education must be stopped. Western academics have to rise up against this phenomenon.

The most important argument against the usage of censorship in academic institutions must be the fact that under qualified academics are being created. In the Iranian case, western professors must wonder if their Iranian colleagues are up to the challenges of university life. Having to deal with censored material during their study makes them less educated than western scholars. They get misinformed and misled. It is impossible to call academic grades of Iranian students valid, when they have been educated in Iran.

Moreover, if students do not get into contact with alternative views on specific subjects, a sense of critical thinking cannot be established. The general aim of every education is to make students aware of the fact that they should asses the quality of the information they work with. Students who have to read a censored book about state-structure and political development in Iran only get a biased look on this subject. Instead of having to deal with multiple views, they only get one side of the story. Therefore, they become incapable of developing their own opinion.

Censorship in general is a violation of one of the most basic human rights. People are misled and misinformed when dealing with censored materials and that basically resembles rape. Students at universities and colleges are being shaped academically as well as socially. If they get into contact with censored books and censored academic programs, this violation is even more severe. It is an unforgivable crime to withhold truthful information from these students.

It is always hard to fight against totalitarian regimes, such as the Iranian government. However, western academics have a powerful weapon on their side in this particular instance. They can reach college and university students in ways their own government is not able to. Students under dictatorial regimes have the power and position to stop the continuous censoring at academic institutions. Before this can happen, they must be warned by the international community, in particular the academic world. Western academics can oppose the Iranian government and Iranian students will follow their lead.