Thursday 22 February 2018

How new leader crossed the cultural divide

Robert Tait and Simon Johnson

The timeless setting of the religious seminary of Qom – spiritual home of Iran's ruling theocracy – could hardly be in greater contrast to the modernity of Glasgow Caledonian University.

Students in the former submit themselves to a monastic life of study to qualify them as Islamic clerics. Most in the latter lead a less self-depriving existence, aided by the pubs in Glasgow.

Yet Hassan Rowhani, Iran's new president-elect, has the distinction of having attended both institutions.

Having experienced the rigours of Qom's teachings in his youth, Mr Rowhani apparently sampled the secular environment of Glasgow Caledonian University in the '90s, where he is said to have graduated with a master's degree followed by a PhD. University records confirm that two theses on Islamic law were submitted in 1995 and 1998 by a Hassan Feridon, which is believed to be Mr Rowhani's family name.

A university spokesman was unable to shed light on Mr Rowhani's time as a student.

Two alumni from the '90s contacted by the 'Daily Telegraph' had no recollection of a Mr Rowhani – or Feridon – increasing suspicions that he may have earned his qualifications in absentia.

Writing in the 'Huffington Post', Amir Dastmalchian, an academic affiliated to King's College, London, said absenteeism was possible. "It is possible, in specific instances, to obtain a doctorate in the UK without truly going through a process of new learning and without being part of the academic life of a university." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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