Brief History of the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution
Victory of the glorious Islamic Revolution in Feb. 1979 and consequently replacement of the tyrannical Pahlavi regime with the Islamic Republic system necessitated fundamental changes in various social arenas because any development and change in the system of government could be achieved only through changes in the structure and foundations of the former system. Among these structure, cultural affairs enjoy a prominent position and vital importance and this assumption that a system could he changed without the change in the prevailing culture is inconceivable.
The new year message of Imam Khomeini in Mar.21.1980 could be considered as a turning point in the history of the Cultural Revolution in Iran. Imam Khomeini, in article 11 of his message underlined "the need for a fundamental revolution in all universities throughout the country" ,"purging the universities from professors affiliated to the west or the east" and "turning universities to a healthy environment for flourishing of sublime Islamic sciences".
The Revolutionary Council, following a meeting with Imam Khomeini, in a statement in Apr.17.1980 declared that universities on longer should be used as the operational headquarters of various groups. In the said statement a 3 days ultimatum was given to various groups to dismantle their offices in universities and further announced that university exams must be finished by Jun. 4 and in Jun. 5 all universities will be closed down and all activities including recruitments would be stopped and country's education system should based on Islamic norms and principles. Following the closure of universities, in Jun.12.1980, Imam Khomeini issued the decree for establishment of the Cultural Revolution Headquarters. The decree reads in part as follows:
"The need for Cultural Revolution which is an Islamic issue and demand of the Muslim nation has been recognized for sometimes but so far no effective effort has been made to respond to this need and the Muslim nation and the devoted and faithful students in particular are concerned and are worried of the machinations of plotters, which every now and then become evident and the Muslim nation are worried that God forbidden the opportunity is missed and no positive action is taken and the culture remains the same as the time of the corrupt regime which the acultured officials put these important centers under the disposal of colonialists. Continuation of this disaster which is unfortunately the objective of some the foreign oriented groups would deal a heavy blow to Islamic Revolution and Islamic Republic and any indifference towards this vital issue would be great treason against Islam and the Islamic country.
Therefore, hereby Mr. Mohammad Javad Bahonar, Mehdi Rabbani Amlashi, Hassan Habibi, Abdolkarim Soroush, Shams Al Ahmad, Jalaledin Farsi and Ali Shariatmadari are authorized to set up a headquarters and invite the devoted scholars among the Muslim professors and committed and faithful employees and other educated, individuals who are committed and loyal to the Islamic Republic of Iran so that a council can be established for planning various courses and future cultural policy of universities in accordance with Islamic culture and selection and training of capable, knowledgeable and devoted professors and take care of other affair relevant to the Islamic education revolution."
The Headquarters of Cultural Revolution based on the decree issued by Imam Khomeini was obliged to focus its activities on a number of issues in dealing with the affairs of the universities:
Training professors and selection of noble individuals for lecturing in universities.
Selection of students
Islamization of the environment of universities and changing the educational programs of universities aimed at rendering services to the nation.
In line with the above objectives, the cultural headquarters invited various scholars and in the first step the planning groups were formed for medical, technical and engineering, basic sciences, agriculture, humanities and art brunches. Since the management of universities at that time was not in line with the Islamic culture of the society, therefore some reforms were needed in the management of universities. The organizational structure of university had to be changed and more importantly the Islamic atmosphere had to be created in academic environments. For these reasons a special body named the "Committee for Islamization of universities" was formed in the Cultural Headquarters.
Because of inconsistency of norms and regulations prevailing in universities with the revolutionary climate of country, most of the efforts of the Headquarters were focused on Islamization of universities and make the regulations compatible with Islamic teachings. In October 1983, based on Imam Khomeini's views on the need for expansion and consolidation of the status of the cultural Headquarters, especially the presence of state officials in this establishment, Imam Khomeini in a letter dated Aug, 28, 1983 responded to the proposal made by the then president of Islamic Republic (supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei) about refurbishing and reshuffling the Headquarters of the Cultural Revolution and from that time onwards the Headquarters continued its functions with following members: Prime Minister, Ministers of Culture and Higher Educations and Cultures and Islamic Guidance, two students appointed of Academic Crusade (university Jihad) and Mrs Ali Shariatmadari, Ahmad Ahmadi, Abdolkarim Soroush and Mostafa Moeen. Upon reopening of universities and expansion of educational centers and increased activities of the Headquarters of the Cultural Revolution, the need for upholding this establishment became more evident to an extend that on dec.9.1984 the second major reshuffling in the Headquarter took place by the instruction of Imam Khomeini and consequently the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution was formed with a new composition. The degree issued by Imam Khomeini on this occasion reads in part as follows:
"Getting rid of the corrupt western culture and replacing it with the benevolent Islamic, national and revolutionary cultures in all areas throughout the country requires such a great endeavor that its attainment requires years of pain sticking efforts and long campaign to reradiate deeply rooted western culture. Now, by thanking the efforts of the members of the Headquarter of the Cultural Revolution, in order to ever more promoting and flourishing the ideals of the Revolution within the whole country I find it essential to add the name of following personalities to the existing members of the Headquarters, the heads of the three brunches of government, Hojatoleslam Mr. Khamenei, Mr. Ardebili and Mr. Rafsanjani, as well as Hojatileslam Mr. Mahdavi Kani , Mr. Seid Kazem Akrami (Minister of Education), Reza Devri, Nasrollah Poorjavadi and Mohammad Reza Hashemi."
Upon the question of the then President about the validity of the declarations of the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution on Feb. 17.1984, Imam Khomeini responded in Feb.24.1984 as follows:
"The declarations and directives issued by the esteemed Supreme Council of the Revolution must be enforced."
The third major reshuffling of the high council took place in 1996 when the supreme leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Khamenei in a message on Dec.4.1996 while announcing the new composition of the Council members underlined the important status and critical responsibilities of the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution. The message reads as follows:
" The Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution which was established as a substitute for the Headquarters of the Cultural Revolution upon the wise intuitive of the late imam Khomeini has played an active and effective role in country's cultural arenas and universities in particular and has left behind numerous benedictions. Currently, in line with country's progress in reconstruction efforts and increasing need to knowledge and expertise and urgency to acquire technical know-how and educating researchers, innovators, professors and capable experts, the cultural issues have gained further importance. Expansion of universities, research centers and other education and high education institutions which is a natural response to that need and large increase in the number of university students, the cultural officials of the country are vested with ever more new responsibilities, above them all are promotion of the quality of scientific foundations of the country within these educational centers and secondly focusing on spiritual fostering of students and directing their thoughts and deeds."
In other section of this message, while referring to all out culture onslaught of the enemies to Islamic cultures, genuine culture and people's belief, it is stated that:
"All these important and alarming facts, calls upon the country's cultural authorities to make new initiatives and more vigorous efforts and specially the supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution which acts as the central headquarter in national campaign against illiteracy and scientific backwardness and cultural dependency is motivated to increase its efforts and initiatives."
Thus, the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution entered a new phase in its organizational life. In this stage the Council was entrusted with responsibility to give priority to the cultural management of the society in various arenas and through appropriate policy making pave the way for emergence of a society benefited from Devine blessings.