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Starting Iran's Basij Young

A leader of Iran's Student Basij organization has announced that 6,000 Basij units will be created in Iran’s elementary schools.

Mohammad Saleh Jokar told the semi-official Mehr news agency that the move is aimed at expanding Basij activities in schools and promoting Basij and revolutionary ideals among pupils who can be influenced at a young age.

Jokar added that currently about 4.5 million students at elementary and high schools and 320,000 teachers are members of the Basij force.

Iran has always kept children at schools under heavy ideological pressure, but this new plan seems to be an intensification of those efforts.

The move can also be seen in the context of Iran's postelection crisis and an attempt to rein in more unruly elements of the school system.

In recent weeks, several protests were reported at schools where pupils chanted slogans against Ahmadinejad and his government.

-- Golnaz Esfandiari

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