Iranian scholar refuses to tread on Israeli, US flags
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Iranian scholar refuses to tread on Israeli, US flags

Professor Sadegh Zibakalam avoids stepping on the symbols at university entrance, calling such acts disrespectful

An Iranian professor avoids stepping on an Israeli flag painted onto the ground at a university in northeastern Iran, in footage released November 5, 2016. (MEMRI/screenshot)
An Iranian professor avoids stepping on an Israeli flag painted onto the ground at a university in northeastern Iran, in footage released November 5, 2016. (MEMRI/screenshot)

An Iranian scholar went to great lengths to avoid stepping on an Israeli flag painted onto the ground at the entrance to a university building in Iran, according to widely circulated footage of the incident, and later did the same to avoid having to tread on the American flag.

Professor Sadegh Zibakalam can be seen entering a building with some colleagues, carefully sidestepping the Israeli flag on the floor before reaching the first landing where he then climbs onto the railing and shimmies across to avoid the American flag on the ground.

The video was published by Zibakalan earlier this month on Facebook accompanied with a post that read: “American and Israeli flags not stepped over when Zibakalam enters Azad University [a private nationwide university system] of Mashhad [a city in northeastern Iran] to debate Hamid Rasaei [a conservative member of parliament].”

Later in the clip, the professor can be seen being goaded into stepping on the American flag in a room full of what appear to be students, even being shoved across the flag into the arms of a person standing on the other end.

.لگدمال نکردن پرچمهای #آمریکا و #اسرائیل در لحظه ورود #صادق_زیباکلام به #دانشگاه_آزاد_مشهد جهت مناظره با حجت الاسلام #حمید_رسایی / آبان 95#زیباکلام #زیباکلام_مشهد_12آبان1395 #پرچم_آمریکا #پرچم_اسرائیل #اسراییل #تولد_اسرائیل #zibakalam #sadeghZibakalam

Posted by Sadegh Zibakalam on Saturday, 5 November 2016

In a TV segment aired in Iran, the professor defended his decision, saying it was “a mistake to burn the flag of any nation.”

Iranian Reformist Intellectual Zibakalam Refuses to Step on American, Israeli FlagsFootage posted on the Internet shows Iranian reformist intellectual Sadegh Zibakalam refusing to step on the American and Israeli flags and pushing students who were trying to force him to do so. Prof. Zibakalam later explained on a TV show that stepping on the flag of any nation was a sign of disrespect toward that nation. The footage of the incidents and the interview were posted on Zibakalam's Facebook page in November.

Posted by The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) on Sunday, 13 November 2016

“It is a sign of disrespect toward that nation. Placing the flag of a country on the ground and stepping on it is an error, a sign of disrespect toward that nation. You do this kind of thing, and then some London-based [Iranian] complains that when traveling to the US, he was thoroughly checked at the airport. Even his eyes were scanned. This is an act of disrespect,” he said in the November 10 interview, according to a translation provided by the Middle East Media Research Institute.

The move comes in stark contrast to the Iranian tradition of burning and otherwise desecrating American and Israeli flags, specifically at the annual events marking the anniversary of the 1979 takeover of the US Embassy in Tehran and at rallies for “al-Quds Day,” an annual day of demonstration against Israel.

Iran, which does not recognize Israel and calls for its destruction, has marked al-Quds Day since the start of its 1979 Islamic revolution. Al-Quds is the historic Arabic name for Jerusalem, and Iran says the day is an occasion to express support for the Palestinians and emphasize the importance of Jerusalem for Muslims.

A resolution issued in Iran for this year’s al-Quds Day in July called for the elimination of “the cancerous tumor of Israel,” and declared this “noble cause” as the top priority for the Muslim world.

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