16:03 GMT +314 December 2017
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    Academic Diplomacy: Five Americans Granted Permission to Study in Iran

    © AFP 2017/ ATTA KENARE
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    Iran has granted permission for five Americans to study in a Tehran University master’s program with a few more students enrolling in Persian language classes.

    This week, five American students began a two-year master’s program in Iranian studies at Tehran University, the head of the department where US citizens were denied visas for years  saw this as a real breakthrough.

    “This really is a breakthrough,” says Mahdi Ahouie, head of the Department of Iranian Studies, which under the Faculty of World Studies runs the foreign student program.

    In addition to the American students, five British nationals and one Canadian were also accepted for the master’s program at Tehran University.

    The presence of Westerners and especially Americans in Iran has been complicated since the 1979 Islamic revolution, which overthrew the hated pro-West Shah who was one of Washington’s closest Middle East allies at the time.

    By contrast, Iranian education officials stated last week that 8,800 Iranians were studying in the US, with 6,000 in Germany and 4,000 in the UK.

    “My hope is they will take the genuine picture of the country back with them,” Ahouie said. “What we suffer from in Iran – in US, Western and Arab relations – is they don’t have an accurate image, but just live with fantasies of Iranians as very scary people, living with a Middle Ages mentality.”

    “The only way for us to normalize relations with the world is to let more foreigners in and see for themselves,” he says.

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    Tags:
    residence permit, visas, education, American student, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran
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