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UNESCO Drops Support for Iran's Philosophy Day Events

UNESCO Drops Support for Iran's Philosophy Day Events

The United Nations Educational and Scientific Organization has withdrawn its support for events Iran is organizing to mark World Philosophy Day later this month.

Western diplomats said Tuesday that a 2008 agreement for Iran to host this year's events became extremely controversial given Tehran's record of repression and censorship following last year's disputed presidential election.

Diplomats and rights groups pointed to the arrests and deportations of notable Iranian academics after the election and to evidence the philosophy event is being run by harder-line voices in the Iranian system.

A number of academics vowed to boycott the program, scheduled for November 21-23, and European nations, joined by the United States, urged UNESCO's new director-general, Irina Bokova, to cancel the event.

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New restrictions on Iranian university curricula in a number of fields - including law, political science and philosophy - as well as concerns about possible barriers to public access for the event also influenced Western critics.

Paris-based festivities marking Philosophy Day - designed to promote philosophic dialogues and exchanges - are expected to go ahead as scheduled on November 18.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.