Iranian Professor Resigns In Support Of Protests, Says University Was Pressured By Officials

By RFE/RL's Radio Farda

An Iranian university professor says she has resigned in support of her students after hearing their chants about blood-soaked streets and silent teachers, while at the same time coming under pressure from authorities.

Encieh Erfani said she resigned from her post as an assistant professor in physics at the Institute of Advanced Studies in Basic Sciences, located in the northwestern city of Zanjan, while outside the country.

“Student protesters were chanting 'the streets are soaked with blood, our professors are silent...So I submitted my resignation,’” she told RFE/RL’s Radio Farda.

School campuses across the country have become some of the focal points for protests sparked by the September 16 death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was being detained for improperly wearing a head scarf, or hijab.

Amini's death, which the government said was caused by "underlying diseases" but eyewitnesses and her family say was the result of being beaten while in custody, has tapped into students’ “accumulated anger” toward Iran’s clerical establishment, which has stifled free speech and severely limited Internet freedoms, Erfani said.

Security forces have waged a violent crackdown on protesters around the country, killing scores, injuring hundreds, and detaining several thousand people.

In response, some students have refused to attend class, while others -- including female students that removed and burned their hijabs -- have gathered at protests chanting “woman, life, freedom” and “death to the dictator!”

Several schools saw male and female students meet to eat lunch together flouting rules on the compulsory gender segregation in the cafeteria even as security agents moved in and beat people.

Lily Galehdaran, a member of the academic faculty of the Shiraz Art University and one of the first Iranian university professors to resign in support of the protesters said she tried to continue teaching, but in the end could no longer sit by idly and watch what was happening.

“I was interrogated many times in the Intelligence Department of Shiraz and Tehran, but I continued to teach because of the love of my students. But today I am resigning from my job because of the love I have for them,” Galehdaran wrote in her resignation letter.

Written by Ardeshir Tayebi based on an original story in Persian by RFE/RL's Radio Farda