An Iranian scholar has been banned from taking part in a BBC debate about Iran and Saudi Arabia at an American University in Lebanon.
In an interview with Press TV on Saturday, Mohammad Marandi, a professor at the University of Tehran, suggested that the decision has been politically motivated.
“I really do not know what is behind this decision but obviously the US government and the Saudi regime and other such antagonists have always been putting pressure on governments and academic institutions and as well as other institutions to toe the line. Whatever reason behind this ban I find it completely unacceptable,” Professor Marandi said. ” I think it discredits the American University of Beirut and it discredits the image that the United States wishes to promote about itself. Also, I believe that the BBC must refuse to hold the debate at this venue, whether I am included in the discussion or not. AUB must not be allowed to dictate the terms of the debate.”
The Iranian scholar had been invited to speak at the English-speaking panel, but the AUB’s administration informed BBC on Saturday that he is not be permitted to take part in the debate on its campus.
“If one cannot speak freely for a few minutes at a university which is controlled by Americans and which all the academics are hired by Americans, if they do not have the self-confidence to allow an alternative voice to speak at such a debate with five other people on the panel, including hardline opponents of Iran, if they do not have that sort of confidence, then it shows that the narrative that the Americans, American institutions, the American government, and the American mainstream media are promoting is weak and lacking in reason and logic,” he added.
Iran has been a staunch critic of Saudi Arabia’s hostile policies including attempts to destabilize the region namely through incessant bombardment of impoverished Yemen as well as support for Takfiri militants across the region.