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Iranian Students Abroad Decry New Restriction

"Here's a great idea for a thesis!"

"Here's a great idea for a thesis!"

Iranian students studying abroad are expressing concern about new restrictions imposed by that country's Education Ministry regarding their final thesis, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.

The director of student affairs at the Education Ministry announced on March 8 that those studying abroad -- both students on government scholarships and those paying their own way -- are forbidden to submit a thesis related to Iran.

Mohammad Hussein Majlisara added that it may be possible for students on Education Ministry scholarships to be provided with research material from the ministry itself regarding Iran, should there be a need.

"They do not have the right to impose such a law on those who do not live in Iran, and in fact on overseas universities," Kathayoon, an Iranian studying in Europe, told Radio Farda.

"It is obvious that they are afraid of Iranian youth being educated and are trying to block all paths of information, similar to the restrictions in Iran; particularly the removal of social science courses from universities," she said.

"They do not want anyone entering Iran to have precise information, moreover they don't mind scaring Iranian students so that they may [be] scared to return to Iran after acquiring such information."

Ali, an Iranian student in The Netherlands, said he believes that the decision of the Iranian educational authorities is due to the tendency of students to choose to write research papers on Iran.

"This clearly shows that Iranian students have utilized the opportunity of being overseas to do research on Iran, examples of which are most of the Iranian students around me in various fields, including literature and arts," Ali said.

Narges, another Iranian student in Europe, described the decision as "unacceptable" and "discrimination."

Narges said the time has long gone for Iran to be isolated from the rest of the world.

"What does 'related to Iran' mean; merely not mentioning the term 'Iran' in our research papers, or not mentioning any matter directly or indirectly relevant to Iran?" she asked.

"It is not possible to not include references of a country of 70 million strong in the Middle East in a research paper," she added.

Some students said the decision could backfire.

"I believe after this move, many more will be lured to choose such topics," said Laleh, another Iranian studying in Europe. "It is quite simple; students would be provoked to select such topics to find out why it has been forbidden in the first place."