Iran’s war on “star students”

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Behind the drama unfolding in the streets of Iran, the regime is quietly clamping down on some of the nation’s best students by derailing their academic and professional careers.

On Wednesday, progovernment militia attacked and beat students at a school in northeastern Iran. Since last Sunday’s massive protests nationwide, dozens of university students have been arrested as part of an aggressive policy against what are known as Iran’s “star students.”

In most places, being a star means ranking top of the class, but in Iran it means your name appears on a list of students considered a threat by the intelligence ministry. It also means a partial or complete ban from education.

The term comes from the fact that some students have learned of their status by seeing stars printed next to their names on test results.

Mehrnoush Karimi, a 24-year-old law-school hopeful, found out in August that she was starred. She ranked 55 on this year’s national entrance exam for law schools, out of more than 70,000 test-takers. That score should have guaranteed her a seat at the school of her choice. Instead, the government told her she wouldn’t be attending law school due to her “star” status. . .

More than 1,000 graduate students have been blocked from higher education since the practice began in 2006, according to statements by Mostafa Moin, a former education minister, in official media in September. . .

The regime identifies star students by tapping the same network of security forces and informants it uses to keep society generally in check. The intelligence ministry routinely monitors email and phone conversations of people it considers dissidents and activists.

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