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‘He was like my father’: Iranian student says will not defend thesis without honoring Gen. Soleimani

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A frame grab of Iranian Ph.D. student Vahid Saadattalab during an interview with SVT. (Via SVT)

An Iranian Ph.D. student says he will not present his thesis at Stockholm University if authorities violate the freedom of speech and do not let him honor Iranian "heroes" such as General Qassem Soleimani.

Vahid Saadattalab, who is set to defend his thesis at the Department of Materials and Environmental Chemistry on March 3, recently published his work for public reading. In addition to appreciating his family in the initial greeting, the student also commemorated General Qassem Soleimani and Ayatollah Morteza Motahhari.

The act has not been welcomed by some at the university. An employee described it as a "big deal" in an interview with SVT, signaling efforts to block the seminar.

"If this is a normal thing that you dedicate it to your family, then Soleimani is also my family; he is like a father to me, he is like a brother to me," Saadattalab told SVT.

"He saved my country so why not dedicate it to my family in a bigger picture?" he asked.

According to reports, university authorities have called for an extraordinary meeting on Wednesday to address the issue.

The student noted he should be allowed to do what he intends "if there is freedom of speech in Sweden."

Asked about the reason for naming these figures at the outset of his thesis, Saadattalab said, "They are heroes. They were the ones who saved humanity from the evil force in the Middle East actually."

"I was able to continue research on science in light of the security that we get from them," he said, adding, "I wouldn't have defended my thesis without that."

Asked whether he would present his thesis if university authorities ask him to put that lines away, Saadattalab answered, "I will never at all."

The March 3 seminar has been removed from the calendar on the institution's website.

Meanwhile, the Swedish outlet has quoted the head of the related department as saying that the acknowledgment section is "completely outside the scientific part" of the thesis and that the university has no say in that.

Iran's prominent anti-terror commander General Soleimani was assassinated on January 3, 2020, upon the order of then-US president Donald Trump. He was admired by Muslim nations for eliminating the US-sponsored Daesh terrorist group in the region, particularly in Iraq and Syria.

Ayatollah Motahhari was a prominent Muslim scholar and philosopher. Revered as one of the most influential contemporary Iranian clerics in explaining Islamic teachings, the great teacher has written more than 70 books in various fields including Islam, Iran, and history. He was assassinated a few months after the victory of the Islamic Revolution.

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