A controversial poster: This year, SAIH ‘s annual campaign was fronted by a poster spread around all the Norwegian academic cities. Their controversial poster entitled “Beware! They are educated!” shows a group of dictators escaping from protesting students. The illustrated dictators are Hitler, Gaddafi, Mugabe, Kim Jong-il, Stalin, and Ayatollah Khomeini. On October 14 SAIH wrote under “Khomeini in a bad company” that they have received a letter from the Iranian embassy in Oslo. The letter asks them to remove the posters since it illustrates Ayatollah Khomeini among 5 brutal dictators:
[…] “The Embassy of The Islamic Republic of Iran strongly protests against this action and wants your organization to remove this picture as soon as possible”; it is further stated in the email from the embassy. […]
For half a century SAIH has defended student’s right for free speech and this time the organization itself is entitled to the same right: In a press release, they referred to their main objective: “We defend students’ free speech” and announced that they will not comply with the request from the embassy. This press release led to a coverage by many Norwegian newspapers, first and foremost by Aftenposten which cited the embassy’s claim in their article: “You have offended the feelings of a great nation”.
My reaction: Here comes my featured chronicle in Norway’s largest newspaper, Aftenposten entitled “They suppress all the critics” pointing out that in an under any authoritarian regime an embassy represents a government, not a nation:
The Iranian embassy’s intolerant reaction to SAIH’s campaign stands as a symbol of how Iranian authorities suppress all criticism from students in Iran.
This chronicle was followed by an interview with Adresseavisen (The main regional newspaper): “Iranian student supports the student campaign”. I cliamed in the interview that I know of many Iranian students at NTNU who would support the campaign but they do not dare to side with the campaign and its poster, due to the potential risk when they visit their homeland.
Government’s reaction to my article/interview: Some Iranian governmental websites covered the story supporting the action by the Iranian embassy and condemning the poster together with my article. Teribon, an Iranian governmental news portal wrote with a very tense and ideological tone in their article “Iranian embassy in Norway reacted to a blaspheming poster of Imam Khomeini“:
[…] But this was not the end of the story. Nima Darabi one of the Iranian students in Trondheim had an article in Aftenposten. In that text which was fully traitorous to the country [Iran], he supported SAIH’s action. He said that Iranian embassies are not representing the Iranian people and if Europeans are willing to listen to the voice of the Iranian people, they should instead hear it among the angry Iranian crowds protesting outside the embassies. Bringing up the electoral fraud accusations in the recent presidency election [June 2009], he made his article even more betrayal.
Fardanews, another governmental website close to the head of the parliament, cited the same paragraph in “[Iranian] Greens in Norway, allies with anti-Iranian groups against Imam Khomeini”.