Sadegh Zibakalam

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Sadegh Zibakalam
صادق زیباکلام
Zibakalam at Zanjan University, 2013
Sadegh Zibakalam Mofrad

(1948-06-12) 12 June 1948 (age 75)
Alma materHuddersfield Polytechnic
University of Bradford
RelativesSaeid Zibakalam (brother)
Scientific career
FieldsChemical engineering
Political Science
InstitutionsUniversity of Tehran
Islamic Azad University
ThesisThe Historical Genesis of the Islamic Revolution (1989)
Doctoral advisorThomas Gerard Gallagher
Notable studentsSaeed Hajjarian[1]
Fatemeh Hashemi Rafsanjani[1]

Sadegh Zibakalam Mofrad (Persian: صادق زیباکلام, lit.'honest eloquent-speaker';[2] born 12 June 1948) is an Iranian academic, author and pundit[3] described as reformist[4] and neo-liberal.[5] Zibakalam is a professor at University of Tehran[6] and appears frequently on international news outlets[7] including the BBC News and Al Jazeera. His books "How Did We Become What We Are? " and "An Introduction to Islamic Revolution" are among bestsellers and prominent books on Iranian contemporary politics.[1]

Zibakalam has become a familiar face in Iran for his passionate and daring debates with hardliners in which he publicly challenges the state line on many sensitive topics.[2][8]

Early life[edit]

Zibakalam was born into a Shiite family in Tehran. He obtained his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Bradford in the United Kingdom. Zibakalam was a critic of the Shah during his reign and was jailed for 2 years due to this.[9]

Zebakalam held several government positions after the 1979 Iranian Revolution and played a major role in the Cultural Revolution in Iran, something he has later apologized for and expressed regret over.[9][10]

2000 Parliament election disqualification[edit]

While teaching at Islamic Azad University of Zanjan, Zibakalam registered as a candidate for the 2000 Iranian legislative election from Zanjan, but he was disqualified by the Guardian council.[1]


In January 2014, Zebakalam wrote an open letter to Hassan Rouhani and criticized him for not focusing on his campaign promises including freeing political prisoners and ending house arrest of the 2009 presidential candidates (Mir-Hossein Mousavi, Zahra Rahnavard, and Mehdi Karroubi). This was in reaction to a recent Rouhani's speech in praise of pro-government protests against Green Movement protests on Ashura of 2009.[11][12]

Zibakalam has questioned the achievements of the nuclear program of Iran and for this he has been charged with "weakening the system".[13] In February 2014, Zibakalam publicly stated that he recognized the State of Israel because the United Nations recognises it as a state.[2][14]


Sadegh Zibakalam received a one-year prison term from the Islamic Revolutionary Court in March 2018 as a result of critical remarks he made in an "Interview with a Persian-language foreign medium," Deutsche Welle.[15] In addition to the jail sentence, he got a two-year ban from any political and social media activity, as well as from writing for print media, in addition to the jail sentence.[16] He was also accused of "spreading falsehood to disturb public opinion online."[17]


  • 'How Did We Become What We Are?
  • Sadegh, Zibalakam (2009). Hashemi Bedoon-i Rootoosh. p. 326. ISBN 978-9-643-34273-9.[18]
  • Souvenir Photographs with Civil Society
  • Sadegh, Zibalakam (2022). Sha did not murder. p. 326. ISBN 978-1-595-84755-3.
  • An Introduction to Islamic Revolution
  • How The West Became The West
  • Sadegh, Zibalakam (2019). Reza Shah. p. 302. ISBN 978-1-780-83763-5.


  • Deutsche Welle Freedom of Speech Award (2018)[19]


  1. ^ a b c d مردی که زیاد می داند (in Persian),, retrieved 24 April 2015
  2. ^ a b c "The Iranian professor who dares to differ on nuclear matters and Israel". The Guardian. 8 April 2015. Retrieved 9 April 2015.
  3. ^ Hanif Zarrabi-Kashani (19 December 2014). "Iranian Press Week in Review". The Brookings Institution. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  4. ^ Mehrun Etebari (10 May 2013). "Iran Press Report: Waiting for Rafsanjani". The Brookings Institution. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  5. ^ Stephanie Cronin (2013). Reformers and Revolutionaries in Modern Iran: New Perspectives on the Iranian Left. Routledge/BIPS Persian Studies Series. Routledge. p. 43. ISBN 978-1134328901.
  6. ^ Iran's regional aspirations face realities at non-aligned nations summit | The Times of Israel
  7. ^ This House believes that Iran poses the greatest threat to security in the region | Series 2 | The Doha Debates
  8. ^ "Tehran University political scientist Sadegh Zibakalam dares to publicly oppose his regime's foreign policy". Tablet. Retrieved 15 July 2023.
  9. ^ a b "Hatred of Arabs deeply rooted in Persians, says Iranian intellectual". Al Arabiya English. 9 October 2011.
  10. ^ "Ongoing Protests Startled, Confused Iran's Authorities - Sadegh Zibakalam". Iran International. Retrieved 15 July 2023.
  11. ^ Karami, Arash (3 January 2014). "Rouhani criticized by supporter for statement on 2009 elections". AL-MONITOR. Retrieved 3 January 2014.
  12. ^ "Sadegh Zibakalam: I Wish Someone Would Dare Tell the Leader He Cannot Run the Country so Stubbornly". IRANWIRE.
  13. ^ "Dismantling the wall - Hassan Rohani has changed the mood in Iran. But he faces opposition". The Economist Newspaper. 22 February 2014. Retrieved 21 February 2014.
  14. ^ "Tehran University Professor Sadegh Zibakalam: Annihilation Of Israel, Fighting America Were Not Goals Of The 1979 Revolution; The Regime Uses These Slogans To Cover Its Failure To Uphold Accountability, Free Elections, Independent Judiciary". Middle East Media Research Institute. Retrieved 15 July 2023.
  15. ^ "Iranian political scientist Sadegh Zibakalam given jail sentence over DW interview". Retrieved 15 July 2023.
  16. ^ "Outspoken Iranian Academic Sentenced To Prison, Banned From Political Activities". Radio Farda. Retrieved 15 July 2023.
  17. ^ "The Criminal Court of Tehran has handed down a one-year prison sentence to Sadegh Zibakalam, a prominent professor at the University of Tehran and political pundit. The verdict is related to his role in sharing news regarding serial poison attacks on schools". Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA). Retrieved 15 July 2023.
  18. ^ "Ayatollah Hashemi: Man of politics, man of letters". 10 January 2017.
  19. ^ Rahel Klein, Shahram Ahadi, Jamshid Barzegar (3 March 2018), "DW Freedom of Speech Award 2018 goes to Sadegh Zibakalam", Deutsche Welle, retrieved 15 March 2018{{citation}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)

External references/links[edit]