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Religious authorities overrule scientists in Iran

Naturevolume 444page422 (2006) | Download Citation



Your Editorial support for the recent rise in scientific productivity in Iran is admirable (“Revival in Iran” Nature 442, 719; 2006 doi:10.1038/442719b).

However, I disagree with the comments made by the country's health minister Kamran Lankarani in Correspondence (“Iran seeks nuclear power to replace reliance on oil” Nature 443, 906; 2006 doi:10.1038/443906b) about how to help those scientists who struggle to perform quality research there. The minister did not comment, for example, on President Ahmadinejad's recent call for students to demand the removal of liberal and secular university lecturers (see

The theocracy ruling Omar Khayyam's country is no friend of free scientific inquiry. Consider this: each year, the month-long Ramadan fast is meant to end with a festival at the next new moon. But the fast cannot end until the Shi'a authorities have made an official observation of the lunar crescent to check the astronomers' calculations. This year, for some reason, the official observation could not be carried out in time, so religion's mistrust of science paralysed the country's social life for several days.

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  1. Ecole Supérieure de Physique et de Chimie Industrielles, 10 Rue Vauquelin, Paris, 75005, France

    • Kamran Behnia


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