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TEHRAN, Iran - Iran's hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called Tuesday for a purge of liberal and secular teachers from the country's universities, urging students to return 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 official Islamic Republic News Agency quoted Ahmadinejad as saying during a meeting with a group of students.
Ahmadinejad complained that reforms in the country's universities were difficult to accomplish and that the educational system had been affected by secularism for the last 150 years. But, he added: "Such a change has begun."
The president, in his role as head of the country's Council of Cultural Revolution, does have the authority to make such changes. But his comments Tuesday seemed designed more to encourage hard-line students to begin a pressure campaign on their own, thus forcing universities to oust the teachers.
Iran retired dozens of liberal university professors and teachers earlier this year. And last November, Ahmadinejad's administration for the first time named a cleric to head the country's oldest institution of higher education, Tehran University, despite protests by students.