UNESCO Withdraws Sponsorship of World Philosophy Day in Iran

— Sharon Bender

The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) Director-General Irina Bokova withdrew its support from World Philosophy Day events set to take place in Tehran Nov. 21-23. UNESCO’s decision recognizes the unacceptability of Tehran as a location to celebrate peace and free exchange of ideas, given the regime’s long history of censorship, domestic repression, and hateful rhetoric toward Israel, a U.N. member state.

This change in UNESCO’s course followed implementation of new restrictions on Iranian university courses and curricula, including prohibiting the establishment of new departments teaching law, political science, and philosophy-key tenants for discussion within World Philosophy Day events.

“UNESCO has made the right choice in withdrawing support for Iran’s World Philosophy Day events,” B’nai B’rith International President Dennis W. Glick said. “Philosophy cannot be celebrated in an environment where free exchange of ideas is suppressed and hatred reigns.”

“Tehran does not deserve the honor of holding UNESCO-sponsored events extolling freedom and open-mindedness,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “It is impossible to have a philosophical event under a cloud of repression where tolerance is absent.”

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