Iran condemns Neda scholarship

The country's London embassy slams Oxford University over a fund honoring the slain 26-year-old protester

Published November 11, 2009 7:01PM (EST)

In yet another stunning show of insensitivity toward the death of Neda Agha-Soltan, Iran has publicly condemned Oxford University's creation of a scholarship in honor of the slain 26-year-old. The fund, which was started by an anonymous donor, will cover tuition for the graduate program in philosophy (Agha-Soltan's subject of choice) at the university's Queen's College, and preference will be given to Iranian students. This, says the Iranian embassy in London, is a "politically motivated" move that will undermine the institution's "scientific credibility." (I repeat: Iran is dispensing advice on how to not undermined one's credibility.) CNN reports that the embassy sent a letter to the head of Queen's College, which began:

It seems that the University of Oxford has stepped up involvement in a politically motivated campaign which is not only in sharp contrast with its academic objectives, but also is linked with a chain of events in post-Iranian presidential elections blamed for [sic] British interference both at home and abroad

Remember how Iran blamed Agha-Soltan's death on foreign operatives? You better believe this letter is intentionally implicating the illustrious Oxford University in that alleged British conspiracy. It claims that her death was part of a "complicated and planned" event, and that she died "far from the scene of protests erupted after the June presidential election." The letter also cautions that this is "a criminal case, which is still under investigation by the Iranian police." The subtext: The probe called for by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will unveil the true foreign culprits. When that happens, prepare to be humiliated, Oxford:

We believe that your college decision to abuse Neda's case to establish a graduate scholarship will highly politicize your academic institution, undermining your scientific credibility -- along with British press which made exceptionally a lot of hue and cry on Neda's death -- will make Oxford at odd [sic] with the rest of the world's academic institution.

At odds with the rest of the world -- you mean, kind of like Iran?

On a more positive and less maddening note, the very first scholarship recipient, Arianne Shahvisi, had this to say: "I extend my sincere condolences to the Agha-Soltan family, and hope that in succeeding in my studies at Oxford, I can do justice to the name of their brave and gifted daughter."

By Tracy Clark-Flory

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