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Uneducated Fundamentalist Replaces Expert as the Curator of the National Museum of Iran


15 November 2007




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Edited by Shapour Suren-Pahlav


LONDON, (CAIS) -- Mohammadreza Mehrandish a former civil servant working with Tehran Municipality Office was appointed as the new curator of the National Museum of Iran on Sunday, replacing Mohammadreza Kargar, who is an archaeologist and expert in the field.


Mehrandish is taking the post that was previously held by renowned Iranian scholars and academics such as Professor Ezzatollah Negahban, who was the father of modern Iranian archaeology, and Dr Seifollah Kambakhshfard, Dr Firuz Baqerzadeh, and Dr Mehdi Bahrami, who have participated in the excavation of thousands archaeological sites and have written many academic papers.


Mehrandish is a close friend of Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaii, the director of Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts Organization (CHTHO), who also is the Islamic regime’s Vice President and close friend of Mahmood Ahmadinejad. Previously three of them were working for Tehran Municipality Office.


Mehrandish was formerly appointed as the director of the ICHTHO Public Relations Office when Rahim-Mashaii became the director of ICHTO. He resigned from that post last August, ironically with no academic background claimed that he wanted to resume his academic studies. However, shortly afterwards he was named as the secretary of a celebration that was to commemorate the fact that Isfahan’s Naqsh-e Jahan Square had avoided being placed on UNESCO’s List of World Heritage in Danger.


The week-long celebration was scheduled to commence on November 10 but was cancelled after officials and religious figures of Isfahan Province objected, saying the plan was too extravagant.


Since its establishment in 1933, the National Museum of Iran has had 14 other curators, all of whom educated and experts in the in the relevant fields, apart from the new curator.


Mehrandish during a ceremony held on Sunday to introduce him as the new curator and admitted that he only visited the museum three times in past for administrative missions.


“I am 42 years old. I was thrown into the management system of the country when I was 18 . . . after I took a job at the CHTHO, I thought I should make studies in the field of art research,” Mehrandish stated.


The ceremony continued with the farewell speech of former curator Kargar.


Kargar described the condition of the museum as “catastrophic” when he was appointed to manage the institution in 1996. He said that the museum greatly improved due to the policy he pursued during his tenure.


Over the past decade, the museum has conducted many joint projects with France , Italy , Spain , and other countries which are very advanced in the field of museum management, and also has held several unique exhibitions displaying Iranian artefacts and museum objects throughout the world.


Kargar is a professor at Tehran ’s Tabatabaii University and a member of the Academic Board of Azad University.




In Islamic Iran a cleric without even a high school diploma has been appointed as the rector of the Tehran University, the nation’s oldest academic establishment.


Purge of “uncooperative” managers


A new wave of appointments is underway in the management system of the CHTHO, the Sunday edition of the Persian daily Tehran-e Emruz quoted CHTHO Deputy Director for Cultural Affairs Hossein Jafari as saying.


Yet, some CHTHO staff members described the changes as a purge of managers who do not follow the line of the CHTHO director.


Jafari, who is a supporter of Mehrandish, said that the CHTHO director asked him to make the replacements in line with the policy of safeguarding human resources!


In response to a question by a Tehran-e Emruz reporter, who asked why he had not chosen a museum expert or an archaeologist for the position, Jafari inexplicably said, “An archaeologist has to work on excavation projects, and a member of an academic board should attend classes organized by a university. Thus they can not manage a museum,” but a religious-fundamentalist with no academic background can.


Unfortunately the criteria of choosing executive figures in Iran since 1979 have not been based on their level of education or expertise, but instead it is based on their level of devotion and affiliation to the Islamic regime, clerics' offspring and relatives, or who knows who, and sadly the ICHTO is not exempt from this distressing equation in Islamic Iran.


said an archaeologist working with ICHTO who wished to remain anonymous for his safety.


"British Museum and Louvre museums have educated-historians as their directors with years of experience in the field, and National Museum of Iran, got an uneducated-fundamentalist."


He added: "Choosing Mehrandish who is an uneducated individual as the curator of National Museum [of Iran] should not surprise us. When our chief negotiator at IAEA cannot speak English properly; or a cleric's whose jobs is to attend the funerals or conduct marriage ceremonies become in charge of Iran's Archaeological Research Centre; or an uneducated individual just because he is a friend of the regime's president, becomes the head of ICHTO, what else can we expect?" 



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