TEHRAN, Iran - Iran's hard-line president urged students Tuesday to push for a purge of liberal and secular university teachers, another sign of his determination to strengthen Islamic fundamentalism in the country.
[...]Iran still has strong moderate factions, and since taking office a year ago Ahmadinejad has moved to replace pragmatic veterans in the government and diplomatic corps with former military commanders and inexperienced religious hard-liners. His administration also has launched crackdowns on independent journalists, Web sites and bloggers.
Speaking to a group of students Tuesday, Ahmadinejad called on them to pressure his administration to keep driving out moderate instructors, a process that began earlier this year.
Dozens of liberal university professors and teachers were sent into retirement this year after Ahmadinejad's administration, sparking strong protests from students, named the first cleric to head Tehran University.
The country's oldest institution of higher education remains home to dozens more professors and instructors who outspokenly oppose policies that restrict freedom of expression.
"Today, students should shout at the president and ask why liberal and secular university lecturers are present in the universities," the official Islamic Republic News Agency quoted Ahmadinejad as saying during a meeting with students.