Source: RadioFarda (RFE/RL)
An Iranian academic group says dozens of female students have been forced to participate in “mandatory counselling sessions” for failing to “properly” observe the country’s mandatory hijab law.
Anger over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini on September 16 while in police custody for allegedly wearing a head scarf improperly has prompted thousands of Iranians to take to the streets to demand more freedoms and women’s rights.
Numerous protests have been held at universities, particularly in Tehran, where many students have refused to attend class. Protesting students have chanted “Woman, life, freedom” and “Death to the dictator” at the rallies. Some female students have removed and burned their headscarves.
The Union Council of Iranian Students said that in a summons sent by Shiraz University to the students, “removing the hijab and not having proper student clothing” was mentioned as “violations” and they were asked to contact the university authorities for mandatory consultation.
The council also reported that similar action was taken at other universities in the country. These included Tehran’s Soore University, which sent a text message to a group of female students inviting them to participate in a “mandatory cultural camp.”
It added that the summonses were “an offensive action aimed at suppressing and labelling students” and “reprehensible and unjustifiable.”
In recent weeks, there have been several reports of university professors being fired or suspended for accompanying protesting students.
In most of the protests, students have asked professors to support them, and some university professors and lecturers have expressed solidarity with the protesters.
Universities and students have long been at the forefront of the struggle for greater social and political freedoms in Iran. In 1999, students protested the closure of a reformist daily, prompting a brutal raid on the dorms of Tehran University that left one student dead.
Over the years, the authorities have arrested student activists and leaders, sentencing them to prison and banning them from studying.
The activist HRANA news agency said that, as of January 26, at least 700 university students had been arrested during the recent unrest.
Many have faced sentences such as imprisonment and flogging and dozens of students have been expelled from universities or suspended from their studies, as security forces try to stifle widespread dissent.
Written by Ardeshir Tayebi based on an original story in Persian by RFE/RL’s Radio Farda