An interesting tidbit from the Iranian press: Hojjat al-Eslam Mohsen Alviri, member of the Academic Board of the Imam Sadeq University, discusses his recent travel to the United States and speaks of meeting Dr. Seyyid Hossein Nasr, father of Holbrooke aide Vali Nasr, at the Islamic Republic’s Interest Section in Washington (h/t Ali Alfoneh, whose translation is below):
“The public meeting of tonight took place at the Interest Section of Iran. Besides the Iranian delegation, there were some Iranian and non-Iranian professors along with Dr. Rahmani, the head of the Interest Section, and some other employees of the office and Mr. Bahreini, the former head of the Representation Office of the Guardian Jurist at Martyr Beheshti University and the current head of the Islamic Center in Washington…”
“During this meeting Mr. Nasr, who apparently had entered the Interest Section for the first time since the victory of the Islamic revolution, in a survey of the state of Islamic and Shi’a studies in America said: ‘Before the revolution all the chairs in Islamic studies were taken by the Jews and that now all the Shi’a studies chairs are taken over by the Bahai’s! Before the revolution I used my position to send professors from Iran to take over such chairs and I am pursuing the same goal today.’”
Alviri continues: “[Statements made by Professor Nasr: ‘Since I have access to the Dean of the George Washington University I have the opportunity to establish a chair in Shi’a studies and the preliminary phase of the course is also ready and I only need financial assistance from Iran in order to support the chair. If this does not happen before I become a pensioner this opportunity will be lost…’”
Alviri concludes: “He also said: ‘Only God is aware the relationship of each person to God, but my only desire is dying in Iran and being buried in Iran.’…He said he has had a heart surgery last year and that he is under supervision now. He invited me to visit his office the next day which I unfortunately did not manage to do.”
Seyyid Hossein Nasr’s comments, if accurately reported by the Iranian press, do again raise an issue left unresolved by the State Department. Last May, rumors swirled in the Iranian press that Vali Nasr had visited Iran. (See here, here, and here). The State Department responded to press questions by saying that Vali Nasr had visited the Islamic Republic shortly before Obama took office, not after. What the press never asked — nor did any Congressman — was whether Vali Nasr, a well-accomplished scholar in his own right, traveled to Iran on a U.S. passport or whether he had maintained an Iranian passport up to 2008 and perhaps to the present. While it is easier for those of Iranian descent to travel to the Islamic Republic on Iranian passports, it does show a willingness to subordinate U.S. citizenship for convenience and symbolically is problematic as it should be the goal of the State Department to force the Iranian government to recognize the U.S. citizenship of any American regardless of the origin of their birth. It certainly is ironic that the State Department questioned the security clearances of people who once held dual U.S.-Swiss citizenship during the previous administration but grants the highest clearance to those maintaining citizenship in the Islamic Republic.