close button
Switch to Iranwire Light?
It looks like you’re having trouble loading the content on this page. Switch to Iranwire Light instead.
Features

The Iranian Government’s Failure to "Islamize” Universities

October 16, 2023
Maryam Dehkordi
6 min read
A year has passed since the days when the voices of the people of Iran resounded once again, echoed by students from universities across the country
A year has passed since the days when the voices of the people of Iran resounded once again, echoed by students from universities across the country
Ahmad Alamolhoda, the representative of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in Khorasan Razavi province and the Friday Prayer leader of Mashhad, stressed on October 12 the "necessity of Islamizing universities"
Ahmad Alamolhoda, the representative of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in Khorasan Razavi province and the Friday Prayer leader of Mashhad, stressed on October 12 the "necessity of Islamizing universities"
As part of the students’ civil resistance against the Islamic Republic's government during the "Woman, Life, Freedom" movement, they challenged "gender segregation" in university dining halls
As part of the students’ civil resistance against the Islamic Republic's government during the "Woman, Life, Freedom" movement, they challenged "gender segregation" in university dining halls

A year has passed since the days when the voices of the people of Iran resounded once again, echoed by students from universities across the country. 

The "Woman, Life, Freedom" movement served as the backdrop for renewed student protests against the Islamic Republic. 

The students' anger triggered by the death in police custody of Mahsa Amini in September 2022 was so profound that, following the suppression of the nationwide protests, the government decided to quell dissent within academic institutions.

Ahmad Alamolhoda, the representative of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in Khorasan Razavi province and the Friday Prayer leader of Mashhad, stressed on October 12 the "necessity of Islamizing universities." 

He openly acknowledged the government's failure to fully and successfully "Islamize universities" over the past four decades.

These remarks came amid intensified pressure on student activists, professors and university institutions. 

IranWire spoke with one of the editors of the Amirkabir Newsletter Telegram channel about the actions taken over the past year to promote the Islamization of universities.

***

During a gathering of university presidents on October 12, officials from the offices of the representative body of the leader of the Islamic Republic and the commanders of the professors' Basij in Razavi Khorasan province, the Friday Prayer leader of Mashhad emphasized that "Islamizing universities is not a mere academic theory or a passing trend; it is deeply rooted in the revolutionary principles of Islam."

Ahmad Alamolhoda also stated that the successful "Islamization of universities" hinges on the "belief of professors and cultural leaders in the foundational principles" associated with the Islamization of universities. 

This belief, he noted, should extend to influential figures within the university environment who must embrace this objective.

Escalation of Gender Discrimination 

As part of the students’ civil resistance against the Islamic Republic's government during the "Woman, Life, Freedom" movement, they challenged "gender segregation" in university dining halls.

During last year’s protests, male and female students resisted gender segregation, a practice employed as a means to suppress students since the establishment of the Islamic Republic and the Cultural Revolution, and chose to eat their meals together.

Many of those who protested against the Islamic laws governing higher education have been arrested and banned from studying, while gender segregation intensified at the start of the new academic year.

"In March, Shiraz University introduced gender segregation in its cafeteria. Simultaneously, the President of Shahid Beheshti University, in a forceful response to students protesting gender segregation, removed tables and chairs from the central library and summoned some students to the disciplinary committee," the editor said. 

According to this student activist, gender segregation was enforced in the central library of Shahid Beheshti University a month after the practice was enforced at Ferdowsi University of Mashhad's faculty of theology. 

Around the same time, a wall was constructed in the area behind the central cafeteria at Zanjan University to separate male and female students. 

And in June, the Secretary of the Mechatronics Scientific Association at Azerbaijan Civil University was dismissed for opposing gender segregation during a scientific visit to the association. 

Simultaneously, the Cultural Vice-Chancellor of Tehran University's Faculty of Law and Political Sciences divided the study hall at the faculty and made the library of the World Studies Center exclusively available to male students.

Alamolhoda, who served as the head of the Islamic Revolution Committee between 1981 and 1983, attributed the government's failure to implement the Islamization of university to "the excessive burdens placed on university administrators." 

He said that these administrators, despite being revolutionaries, are overwhelmed by management tasks, making it difficult for them to carry out the Islamization of universities.

However, the editor of the Amirkabir Newsletter channel claimed that university administrators have been making significant efforts to enforce gender segregation and other Islamization projects in universities. 

He cited the request for gender segregation in classes and labs at Ferdowsi University of Mashhad's Faculty of Mathematical Sciences, at the library of Sharif University's Faculty of Energy, at the main entrance of Tarbiat Modares University, as well as the fencing of student dormitories and gyms.

Hijab Guidelines

The editor of the Amirkabir Newsletter channel said that Amirkabir University of Technology (Tehran Polytechnic) is “one of the universities that has rigorously pursued the Islamization plan." 

"Just a few days before the universities reopened, we published a report on the installation of banners with new hijab instructions for students at the university's entrance. These instructions forbid girls from using perfume and boys from wearing belts."

Furthermore, some female students have been denied accommodation in the dormitories due to non-compliance with mandatory hijab when leaving the premises.

During the first two weeks of the academic year, many students were summoned by phone to discuss hijab-related issues. 

The numerous security cameras installed across the university facilitated the identification of students. 

Since the beginning of the academic year, banners with hijab guidelines have been displayed in front of various universities, including Amirkabir University of Technology, Tehran University, Sharif University of Technology, Tarbiat Modares University and Shahid Beheshti University. 

These guidelines strictly prohibit items such as short pants, tight pants, piercings, necklaces and earrings for both girls and boys. Other rules are related to the “length of coat sleeves."

Girls' Dormitories

According to the student activist interviewed by IranWire, "the initiative to Islamize higher education is not restricted to university settings; it has also extended to girls' dormitories." 

The activist mentioned the installation of a camera in the entrance area of girls' dormitories to monitor their attire: "Several female students have been called to the security office and reprimanded for their clothing when entering and exiting the dormitory. The reprimand was severe, focusing on the 'inadequate hijab' inside the dormitory. Dormitory doors have been locked, preventing girls from entering if they don't comply with the dress code, and students have been threatened that their families would be informed in case of non-compliance with Islamic clothing."

According to the editor of the Amirkabir Newsletter channel, security personnel have continued to use CCTVs to identify students who do not conform to "Islamic dress.”

"In certain instances, Basij students have been enlisted to capture images of students who do not adhere to Islamic dress with their mobile phones and provide these images to the security team. After appearing before the disciplinary committee, some students discovered that there were pictures of them in their files, taken and kept without their consent or knowledge."

Purging Universities of Critics

The Etimad newspaper reported that 32,000 teaching professors at Azad University have been dismissed and replaced with "20,000 first or second-semester doctoral students."

Simultaneously, Ahmad Alamolhoda implicitly suggested implementing a similar plan in public universities and argued that imposing "strict limitations" on the academic and educational qualifications of professors poses a problem for the "Islamization of universities."

Reports suggest that what the government labels "non-hijab, inappropriate clothing and un-Islamic attire" is, in fact, a form of civil disobedience in universities and the wider society. 

Students employ this method to express their disapproval of the government's policies. 

During the "Womaan, Life, Freedom" protests, several university directors were dismissed, and many university professors faced "suspension" and "expulsion" orders.

The "Islamization of universities" began in the early years after the 1979 Islamic Revolution through a plan known as the "Cultural Revolution," which involved closing universities and expelling thousands of students and professors for ideological reasons or opposition to the Islamic Republic.

It gained momentum in the mid-1980s with the backing of the supreme leader and Mohammad Taqi Misbah Yazdi, a key ideologue of the Islamic Republic. Extensive measures were also implemented during the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

However, thousands of students joined demonstrations in recent years, and universities across Iran became focal points for demonstrations against the Islamic Republic.

Consequently, many students have been suspended or expelled. 

comments

News

More Security Patrols at Iranian Universities

October 16, 2023
2 min read
More Security Patrols at Iranian Universities