Tehran University Students Clash With Security Forces Over Hijab Punishment

Tehran University security forces and students clashed on April 25 over the mandatory hijab law as tensions on campuses around the country continue to rise over the issue.

Student unions in Iran said trouble at Tehran University began when security forces confiscated a student's ID card due to a violation of the rule stipulating a mandatory hijab or head scarf.

The situation escalated when protests subsequently erupted and two students were severely beaten by the security forces. The two students were detained in a security room for an hour, where they were reportedly threatened.

In response to the clashes, a group of Tehran University students gathered in front of the security building to protest and chant slogans against the mandatory-hijab policy and the use of force by security officers.

Several students, acting as witnesses to the violent confrontation, entered the security room on behalf of other students to file a complaint against the security forces. The students, however, were also threatened by the university president and security officials.

During the gathering in front of the security building, students collected and wrote a letter to complain about the security forces. The student union's report states that Tehran University students emphasized that the complaint was only a part of their pursuit of justice for the brutal behavior of the security forces and that they would stand up to the repression.

Meanwhile, across town, at least 20 students at Tehran's Allameh University were issued suspensions and disqualifications from studying amid similar unrest.

Abdollah Mo'tamedi, the president of the school, said on April 25 that disciplinary cases had been formed only for students who had "specific conditions." He did not elaborate.

The suspensions coincide with ongoing "Woman, Life, Freedom" protests triggered by the death in September of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while she was being held in police custody for an alleged hijab violation.

Numerous protests have been held at universities, particularly in Tehran, where many students have refused to attend classes. Protesting students have chanted "Woman, life, freedom" at the rallies as well as "Death to the dictator," a reference to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Some female students have removed and burned their head scarves.

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.

According to a rights group called the "Committee Monitoring the Situation of Detainees," the Islamic republic's security apparatus has so far "temporarily detained" at least 720 students since the beginning of the protests.

Many have faced sentences such as imprisonment and flogging, while 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