Short-Termist Iranians

Controversy over Dr Katouzian and Rafsanjani's son


Short-Termist Iranians
by Hossein Shahidi

For the past week, I have watched with bewilderment and sorrow the onslaught on my friend and teacher, Dr Homa Katouzian, in connection with the admission to Oxford University of a son of the former Iranian President, Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani.

By now, Dr Katouzian has clarified his academic involvement in the process of admission of Mr Mehdi Hashemi. Oxford University too has announced that its investigation has found no basis for the allegations of impropriety in Mr Hashemi’s admission. From a formal point of view, therefore, the matter must be considered closed.

The reason for writing this note is to reflect on the scale and vehemence of the attacks on Dr Katouzian in a variety of online newsletters, both inside and outside Iran, sometimes using words that are not worth repeating. What these ‘news’ reports and readers’ ‘comments’ have in common is the absence of any information to support any of the accusations, let alone the personal insults, that have been directed at Dr Katouzian.

The outpouring of anger and hatred by some Iranians, against an Iranian academic who has spent almost all his working life researching Iran makes one wonder about the degree of maturity of those who write such ‘reports’ or ‘comments’; the professional standards of the news sites that publish such material; and the extent to which all of this can be seen as representing the Iranian society at large.

In a complex and ever changing world, we all need signposts to help us find our direction. Sometimes, for some people, these signposts are provided by those who possess wealth and power. At other times, and perhaps for other people, the compass is supplied by those who possess knowledge and wisdom and are as free from prejudice and bias as it is humanly possible. Watching them, we can at least have some idea of what is right and what is wrong.

During nearly three decades of friendship and academic collaboration, the more I have known Dr Katouzian, the more I have been overwhelmed by the depth and breadth of his knowledge and the accuracy and fairness of his assessment of people and events. The best evidence for this is his latest book, The Persians, in which rulers, invaders, and defenders of Iran are judged in the context of the conditions of their times, rather than against contemporary standards, as is often our habit. Some historical figures are shown to have been less ‘evil’ than we have been led to believe; others as less than ‘angelic’, with their own human flaws and faults. The result is a refreshing and realistic understanding of Iranian history.

In the Oxford University admission saga, this author would have expected Dr Katouzian’s approval of the doctoral research proposal to have been seen as confirmation of the applicant’s academic credentials. The reason is simple and clear: just as it is a privilege for a scholar to be on the faculty of an academic institution such as Oxford University, the University’s own credibility is also based on the fact that its faculty includes scholars such as Dr Katouzian.

Some attackers, however, have done the reverse, claiming that since the son of a politician whom they oppose has been admitted to Oxford University, Dr Katouzian and the University have lost their academic standing.

The recent torrent of ignorance, prejudice and abuse will not deter Dr Katouzian from his independent and innovative research. But it does show that some of us have not yet learned about independent and critical thinking, and continue to assess everything through the narrow perspective of personal and immediate interests. If Iran is to move towards a democratic society with a long-term pattern of social and political progress, it will need Dr Katouzian and many more like him. We owe it to ourselves to understand, learn from, encourage and support such leading lights. Not only because this is the ‘polite’ thing to do, but also because ultimately this would serve our own long-term interests. [Persian version]


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The case for Dr Katouzian

by anglophile on

Regardless of all the allegations made here, and proved to be untrue, Dr Katouzian must have been applauded for approving Mehdi Hashemi Rafsanjani's bid to receive an Oxford education.  That may be his only hope for salvation.


It's Most Unfortunate .....

by R2-D2 on

that someone as distinguished as Dr. Katouzian, gets involved in such  a mess ..... !

Most Unfortunate Indeed :) !




you guys are correct....

by shushtari on

after all it was the filthy brits that installed the mullahs.....

just like they said, khomeini had a 'made-in-england' stamp on his ass LOL 


Dear bfarahmand

by ariane on

Dear bfarahmand,

 The brit have a mentality of selling whatever they have for a right price. As long as that price is paid, they are willing to even work the devil himself. That's why this resourceless island has kept the world off its feet before and continue to survive. With a right price, you can even sleep with the queen in the same bed. Not sure if that's a good idea though!!

One of these assets is their pretigious university places, i.e., Oxford, Cambridge, etc. They even sell these positions for a right price. This has certainly been thease with Mehdi Hashemi.

I have actually met Mehdi Hashemi in Tehran Exhibition in year 2004 presenting Khatami when he was the head of Organization for optimization of fuel consumption. Like the majority of IRI senior managers, This lad could not even get couple of coherent Farsi sentences together, and was seriously "dash mashti" in his style and attitude. Uxbridge material? Certainly not in y oponion!

The problem is not why the brits are giving these IRI brats a chance that is the problem, it is thee hypocracy of these people. Enjoying the chances they deem unislamic for normal Iranian sons and daughters.

But isn't that the pillar of our beloved country these days?

Sad, very sad!


Thanks ariane

by iamfine on

I enjoyed reading your section here and you are 100% correct. It is clear that British are the root of many problems that we currently have in Iran


I can understand the

by ariane on

I can understand the sensitivity this issue makes.

Rafsanjani families have a long history of association with UK. Almost all of this man's grandchildren are educated in British universities. One actually graduated on the same day that I did. The hypocrisy of this issue is disturbing. On one hand you have a founding member of IRI whose government have been trying to tell us that what we are suffering fom comes from the "the old imperialist wolf", while his immediate family are enjoying free education paid by the Iranian government there. On the other hand you have a beloved Iranian scholar supporting one of his son's bid for Oxford and inadvertantly supporting this hypocracy.

I think Dr. Katouzian has to review this situation. This is similar to a leading western academic getting a scholarship for a Nazi!

UK has traditionallly been a breeding ground for IRI exiles. I have witnessed this first hand. The yesterday anti imperialists are today living in posh British suburbs with the money they looted from Iran.

Giving them any credit or helping them in any way is supporting their hypocratic life.


Hooshyar Samii

by R2-D2 on

Guilt by association is a very touchy thing ..... If in doubt, always give the person accused the benefit of the doubt ..... Always :) !



Hooshyar Samii

Inculpatory evidence

by Hooshyar Samii on

 What Oxford didn't know 

The university of Oxford's investigation team, giving them the benefit of the doubt, could not have had access or even bothered to gain access, to the incriminating evidence that might have easily changed the outcome of their investigation. Their remit was only confined to the rules governing the approval of a PhD proposal made by a doctoral candidate. They were not and they could not be interested to investigate other inculpatory connections that cannot be dismissed as simple coincidence. There are publicly available and official government documents that point towards existence of links between the main players of this sordid affair.

Iranian of the Day 26 February 2010  was one Mr Vahid Alaghband, CEO of the UK based Balli group and the Chairman of the UK based Iran Heritage Foundation. In 2010 Mr Alaghband was fined $17 million for selling three Boeing planes to the Islamic Republic of Iran in breach of the US ban. There are of course other links on the above page which refer to Mr Alaghband's other alleged offences. provides evidence of a strong connection between Mr Alaghband's Balli group and Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani's Mahan Group which were involved in the sale of the Boeing airplanes.

There is no surprise that Iran Heritage Foundation under the chairmanship of Mr Vahid Alaghband (Homa Katouzian is on its academic committee) is suspected to have strong links with the Islamic Republic in general and specificly with the Rafsenjani empire. Two years ago the Shah Abbas exhibition was organized by the IHF and opened by the Islamic Republic's ambassador in the UK.

It also happens that Mohammad Ali Homa Katouzian's is the IHF Fellow at the Centre for Middle East Studies at St. Anthony's Collge Oxford and the post is funded by IHF. 

Now is it a mere coincidence that Mahdi Hashemi Rafsenjani's admisson to Oxford is approved by an academic whose position at Oxford is sponsored by Iran Heritage Foundation with strong links to the Rafsenjani family's conglomerate?

Jeesh Daram

اصل مسئله

Jeesh Daram

از هر گفتگویی باید یک نتیجه گیری مفید بعمل آید وگرنه وقت تلف کردن است.  مسئله مهم اینجا این نیست که چه کسی به پسر هاشمی پذیرش داد و کی نداد. این شاه-پسر حدود ده پانزده سال پیش هم یکی دو میلیون از شرکت نفت نروژ رشوه گرفته بود که گندش در آمد.  بنابراین همیشه هستند افرادی که هاشمی ها میتوانند آنها را با پول بخرند.  نتیجه ای که در اینجا باید گرفت و مخصوصا برای آنها که رویای تقلب و "بزن توش" و نمره و مدرک دزدی چشمشان را کور کرده است بدانند، انگلستان در طی قرون همیشه با نوکران خود این کار را کرده است. کمک میکند تا مدرک تقلبی از آکسفورد و کمبریج بگیری ولی ریشت تا ابد گروگان آنهاست و آن زمان که میایند و ازتو میخواهند بوطن بیشتر خیانت کنی،  اگر سر باز بزنی بقول حاج آقا حسین ملک، لنگت رو هواست.  برای وابستگان رژیم های دست نشانده و سفیرانشان خانم و فاحشه میاورند و از ایشان مخفیانه عکس میگیرند برای آنروزی که میخواهند سرنگونشان کنند.  شواهد آنهم زیاد هستند و همه میدانید.  این وسط هم چند نفر قربانی بگو مگو های ناشی از این وقایع میشوند، و آن مسئله مهمی نیست و این نیز بگذرد.  اصل مطلب نفت و گاز دریای کاسپین است و نابود کردن ایران که همیشه هدف اصلی بریتانیا بوده است


Father and son

by iamfine on

We should not mixed him with his father. In many instances father and son have opposing opinions when it comes to politics and many other things in life. The question is "did he contribute to his country in a positive way"


Every one has a price

by rain bow movment on

with all do respect to Mr katouzian,

Idon't know him and never advocating for such thing happened,but I know one thing in the past 32 years of evil islamic rulers of Iran so many academic scholar sold their soul to these evils and that's why some Iranian writing such article about it.

every one have a price (I mean oxford university)and a reason for it  probebly Mr katouzin's boss asked him to approve  mehdi hashemi's doctoral research.

the criminal hashemi's son & Co should be arrested and put in jail rather than being accepted and admitted to oxford university .Iranian people knows the credential  direction  of western & eastern governoment is toward the,$$$$$$$$$$,$$$$$$$$$$,$$$$$$$$$

let alone the oxford university.

we often seen so called western free world issued residency visa for  many of these criminal and their sons and reletives  because of  their large bank account, but for those who have been robbed and humiliated by these criminals and scaping from their motherland to other countries ,they will get few years in assylem seeker detention center if they are lucky to get there.

as united nations has no credential for most of the real people around the world(except dictatorial regim like Iran and so on) so how cares about oxford university's credential,and as all of you know 


Jahanshah Javid

Speculation, politics and plain spite

by Jahanshah Javid on

Thank you. I couldn't agree more. I would only add that as a great historian, I'm sure Dr. Katouzian would agree that any association, knowingly or unknowingly, with a member of a family that has played a powerful part in a ruthless dictatorship is going to look bad. I said LOOK bad because in this super-charged political atmosphere, especially after the sham elections, people are more conspiratorial than usual and facts get ignored. The fact is that Dr Katouzian is widely respected and beloved and an Oxford investigation has found nothing improper. The rest is speculation, politics and plain spite.

Darius Kadivar

Qui se ressemble s'assemble ...

by Darius Kadivar on

Notice the same beard ;0))  


"Qui se ressemble s'assemble". aka "Birds of a feather flock together"


Dunno why Quotes come to my mind so quickly lately ? ...





by fussygorilla on

Ditto and well said.  Unfortunately I find the overwhelming majority of those who comment here regularly, belong to the Iranians who are either absolutley ignorant or have their own extremely narrow and biased agendas. 

I detest Rafsanjani and his sons who have cheated Iranian banks out of billions of dolalrs but I also know Prof. Katouzian as an academic  with utmost quality of scholarship.  Glad this essay is printed here to hopefully put those idiotic accusers to shame.

Darius Kadivar

Like Shakespeare Once Said "The World is a Stage"

by Darius Kadivar on

"All the world's a stage,

And all the men and women merely players:

They have their exits and their entrances;

And one man in his time plays many parts,

His acts being seven ages." - William Shakespeare - All the world's a stage (from As You Like It  Act II Scene VII)

Darius Kadivar

And Why Not ? Harvard Helped Polish Gaddafi's image (CNN Video)

by Darius Kadivar on

VIDEO: Gadhafi paid millions to U.S. firms to polish his global image     Advertising companies Making Millions in uplifting the Libyan tyrant's image. Sending academics from Harvard and other respected universities to write positive reviews on the regime.


I Would Like To Respectfully .....

by R2-D2 on

ask Jahanshah and other Editors at to take note of this article, and in the future, scrutinize more closely some of the works that are submitted for publication - Especially, if they are deemed incendiary, and accusatory ..... !

Last week, an article was published regarding "Anti-semitic" tendencies of our great Sadeq Hedayat - From the numerous comments left by our fellow Iranians, some with great detail, it was quite obvious that the article lacked any considerable and substantial scholarly foundation -

I appreciate it -





Dear Mr Shahidi Thank you

by Khebedin on

Dear Mr Shahidi

Thank you for your article and clarification of the situation. You are absolutely correct.  Some Iranians regrettably, show that they are far from being independent and critical thinkers, and continue to assess everything through the narrow perspective of personal and immediate interests. This perhaps is the main reason of being where we are and still referred to as a3rd world nation or developing.  When I watched the video, I too was surprised of Oxford’s possible  flexibility, bt your explanation has clarified the circumstances for me. Thank you