Iran`s hardliners target top private university

Iran`s Khamenei declares Uni`s endowment to be religiously illegitimate.

Tehran: Iran`s top leader has paved the way for a government takeover of the country`s largest private university and a stronghold for moderates.

The Islamic Azad University is the centre of power for former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a key supporter of Iran`s moderates.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a decree on Monday declaring the university`s endowment, or the means by which it stays independent, to be religiously illegitimate and thus null and void.

The university was a major resource for opposition protests against the 2009 re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which opponents say was fraudulent.

The endowment, or vaqf in Farsi, was a strategy by founder Rafsanjani to keep the university independent. It can now be taken over by the state.