On May 13th, students at Tehran University staged a demonstration against “hijab and chastity plans.” In a statement, the students said they were protesting “the presence and deployment of ‘women’s protection forces’ that have joined previous university guards.” They said these new security forces amounted to a “clear offense to students’ private lives and directly violated their human rights and were a naked injustice against female students.”
Videos of the demonstration showed clashes between the protesting students and students belonging to the state-backed Basij force.
The protesting students stated that defending “freedom of clothing” was an “obvious right.” They also stated that the “minimal freedom on clothing that exists at Tehran University” was due to “resistance and pressure” from students. The protesting students shouted slogans against mandatory hijab and their placards called for the freedom of three activists arrested during May Day protests on campus: Marzieh Amiri, Atefeh Rangriz, and Neda Naji.
Majid Sarsangi, Tehran University’s vice president for cultural affairs, denied the claim that “morality police” had been deployed to Tehran University. He stated: “Some are ignorantly and deliberately creating tensions in the students’ environment.”
However, Sarsangi stated that more strict social rules were indeed being implemented due to the start of the Islamic month of Ramadan. He said: “The only thing that has happened is that—just like every year for Ramadan—to preserve the sanctity of this month there should be no visible signs of not observing fasting or wearing attire that doesn’t respect the sanctity of this month.”
He added: “To this end, security forces are at Tehran University to give warnings to people who don’t respect the sanctity of fasting.”
Sarsangi also stated that Tehran University must implement the law, but that it doesn’t have a say in whether the law is “good or bad.” He said that it was “unfortunate” that there were clashes between students who have “different beliefs and ideas.” He added: “We tried to calm the students who were angry … we hope that we never have to see such behavior at the university.”