Calls for exam boycotts have emerged in response to the enforcement of strict regulations on wearing hijabs on campus

In an act of solidarity against the regime’s strict enforcement of the Islamic dress code on campuses, students at Tehran’s University of Art have called for a nationwide exam boycott. The boycott is intended to represent all individuals who refuse to conform to the dress code by not wearing the hijab or headscarf.

Amid the commencement of end-of-year exams, the International Confederation of Iranian Students has publicized a boycott call to all students. The call comes in response to the intensified enforcement of headcovering regulations, with the University of Art student body expressing their resistance against the stricter measures.

The oppressive actions taken by both the regime and campus authorities have sparked solidarity among students from various universities. In a show of support for the University of Art, these students have taken to protesting, indicating that the regime’s actions against women students will ultimately have a counterproductive effect.

Starting on 14 June, a group of unidentified students at the University of Art initiated a sit-in to protest against the mandatory hijab. According to student groups, the protesters faced severe conditions such as deprivation of food and water, as well as restrictions on accessing restroom facilities.

Reports from social media, which cannot be independently verified, suggest that clashes erupted between security forces and students on 15 June at the campus. These clashes resulted in injuries to several students.

As per student council reports, male plainclothes agents made arrests two days later. Disturbingly, there has been no information provided to the families regarding the whereabouts of the detained students.

During the past week, state security forces, including plainclothes agents, apprehended over 10 students who were participating in a peaceful sit-in at the National Garden Campus of the university. On 17 June, these students were forcibly taken into a van by the security forces.

According to a statement from the Centre for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on 19 June, a number of students were detained for several hours.

According to information received by CHRI in Washington DC, “Some of them are first-year students from other provinces who are so new to the city that they didn’t even know how to get back after they were released.”

In recent developments, tensions arose on 30 May when approximately 40 female students at the university were temporarily denied access to classes. The university claimed that these students had not fully adhered to the Islamic dress code, which requires a black coif covering the head, forehead, chin, and chest, known as “maghnaeh” in Iran.

On 12 June, the student confederation reported that university authorities issued warnings stating that attending the university without wearing the head covering would result in complete suspension.

On 17 June, students at the University of Art released a statement to the institution and authorities, expressing their defiance. The statement addressed the renewed emphasis on gender segregation and the requirement to wear a “maqhnaeh” at the university.

It also mentioned the use of violence and water supply cutoffs against their fellow students who were peacefully protesting for equality in the National Garden Campus. The statement reiterated their determination to stand firm and not retreat.

Referring to the death of Mahsa Amini in September 2022, who died while in police custody for allegedly improperly wearing the hijab, the students stated, “The wound that opened wide in September is still bleeding. And we are standing, hand in hand, for freedom.” Mahsa Amini’s tragic incident triggered nationwide protests that persisted for months.

According to Hadi Ghaemi, Executive Director of CHRI, university students at the Art University and across Iran are being subjected to imprisonment, bans, and academic repercussions for peacefully protesting against repressive and discriminatory forced hijab rules.

Earlier this month, CHRI reported that as part of a crackdown on peaceful protests starting in November 2022, female students at the University of Art were barred from campus.

On November 7, 2022, a significant number of students in the university’s Film and Theatre Department received zero grades for all their courses and exams, in an attempt to coerce them into ending their protest activities.

Students at the University of Art and other campuses have raised concerns about the heightened presence of security officials. The student council has expressed apprehension to government and university authorities regarding the establishment of a ‘garrison’ atmosphere on campuses due to the increased deployment of security personnel.



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By Ryan

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