Iranian universities under spotlight as protests persist

In videos circulating on social media, male and female students on Iranian university campuses are seen eating together, often outside the gender-segregated dining halls that were closed after students tore down the walls dividing men and women.

Eating together in front of the closed cafeterias is considered act of resistance. The videos are an act of protest and solidarity with anti-government demonstrations that have been going on for months in Iran.

In many videos, protesters holding placards also draw attention to fellow students who have been arrested. According to media reports, about 300 students have been detained by authorities .

The protesters appear not to be intimidated by the government’s clampdown on the demonstrations.

“A student may die but will not accept humiliation,” they chanted at Shahid Chamran University of Ahvaz, in the southwestern province of Khuzestan, in an online video verified by AFP.

Students of Iranian universities also show solidarity with Iranian schoolchildren, who are active in the protests and, as a result, paying a price.

Schoolgirls at the Shahid Sadr Girls’ Vocational School in Tehran, for instance, were recently beaten for taking part in the demonstrations, according to activists.

“Schoolgirls from Sadr High School in Tehran were attacked, strip-searched and beaten,” the activist group 1500tasvir reported.

Iran’s Education Ministry has denied reports that a female student was killed in the confrontation, according to the ISNA news agency.

The students can still count on the liberal leanings of many professors. At the end of September, about 70 professors from Tehran University published an open letter to the government in the newspaper Etemad.

In it, they clearly described the political and economic grievances of the country and demanded the release of all demonstrators.

In the days that followed, the faculty of other universities formulated similar letters. However, this also widened the rift within the universities, as leadership roles within these institutions are held by confidants of the regime.

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