Morteza Nikoubazl / Reuters
Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad meets with Iranian students and scientists in Tehran on Tuesday, where he called for the removal of liberal and secular teachers in the country's universities.
updated 9/5/2006 6:17:36 AM ET 2006-09-05T10:17:36

Iran's hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called Tuesday for a purge of liberal and secular teachers from the country's universities, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported in another step back to 1980s-style radicalism.

"Today, students should shout at the president and ask why liberal and secular university lecturers are present in the universities," the agency quoted Ahmadinejad as saying during a meeting with a group of students.

Ahmadinejad complained that changes in the country's universities were difficult to accomplish and that the country's educational system had been affected by secularism for the last 150 years, but said "such a change has begun."

Earlier this year, Iran retired dozens of liberal university professors and teachers. And last November, Ahmadinejad's administration for the first time named a cleric to head the country's oldest university in Tehran amid protests by students over the appointment.

The developments followed a campaign promise by Ahmadinejad for a more Islamic-oriented country. He took office last August.

Since then, Ahmadinejad also has been replacing pragmatic veterans in the government with former military commanders and inexperienced religious hard-liners.

Ahmadinejad's aim appears to be to install a new generation of rulers who will revive the fundamentalist goals pursued in the 1980s under the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, father of the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran.

In the early 1980s, shortly after the revolution, Iran sacked hundreds of liberal and leftist university teachers and students.

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