University of Edinburgh — October 1951
Scottish nationalism has ascended. On September 18, 2014, the people of Scotland finally got the opportunity to vote on whether to remain in the United Kingdom or declare independence as a sovereign country. The majority of Scots chose to stick with the UK.
In 1951, it was Iranian nationalism that dominated the headlines. British oil concerns had been nationalized in April, leading the two nations to lock horns in an international showdown, with Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh, a national hero, facing down Sir Gladwyn Jebb at the United Nations.
Oil and gas reserves in Scottish waters (the adjacent North Sea), wouldn’t be discovered until 1970, and not long after, “It’s Scotland’s oil” became a political rallying point connected with the burgeoning independence movement.
Iran’s mid-century quarrel was, of course, with England—not Ireland, Scotland or Wales. So it’s conceivable that, despite its connection to the United Kingdom, some Scots might have identified with the Iranian struggle for self-determination.
The candidates, to be elected November 9, 1951, included Sir Andrew Murray, Scottish political and military figure, famed British author Evelyn Waugh, Scottish poet Sydney Goodsir Smith, Scottish stage and film actor Alastair Sim (then seeking re-election), Lord John Cameron of Scotland, British conductor Sir Thomas Beecham, Scottish performer Jimmy Logan, Lord Nuffield, the British industrialist and philanthropist, film star Groucho Marx, and the Aga Khan III, world wide leader of Ismaili sect, a branch of Shia Islam.
Ultimately, a university committee barred Mossadegh from consideration solely on a technicality—he had, while in Washington DC, accepted by telegram, rather than in writing as was the custom. His supporters were unable to obtain the required signature before the November 2nd deadline, and Sir Alexander Fleming, the Scottish biologist who discovered penicillin, would earn the rectorship with 1,096 votes.
Naturally, Dr. Mossadegh had far bigger concerns at this point, already overwhelmed with his responsibilities as Premier, but the nomination was a nice gesture toward a man who had a great regard for higher education and was European educated himself. To this day, "Student Day" in Iran marks the anniversary of the December 1953 pro-Mossadegh, anti-Shah university demonstrations after the coup.
After Mossadegh died in 1967, his will pledged a sum of money to be used toward land purchase for the building or renovation of a student club at Tehran University.
Decades later, in October 2013, the Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh Leadership Fund and student hall named after him was unveiled in Chicago’s Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU).
Sources: Associated Press (AP), Australian Associated Press (A.A.P.), The Daily Mail
The Advertiser newspaper of Adelaide, Australia thought it would be a cute idea to devote an entire editorial to the trivial news item in their November 1, 1951 edition:
On the same day, The Advertiser fitted the subject in their news round-up column "Good Morning!", with an extra spoonful of sarcasm:
Texas Oil Men Cite Mossadegh — Associated Press, December 16, 1951
Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh Servant Leaders Hall at Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU)
U.S. State Department Spokesman Honors Mossadegh on 1953 Coup Anniversary
MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”