On October 23, 2022, students from opposing groups clashed at Sharif University of Technology (SUT) during campus protests.
On October 3, SUT had suspended in-person classes following a violent crackdown by state security forces on a peaceful protest on campus the day before (see report). On October 22, SUT resumed in-person classes, inviting students to return to campus.
On the day classes resumed, a group of female students reportedly removed their hijabs, in violation of a campus rule making them mandatory, and entered the men’s dining hall. The following day, a group of students held a demonstration denouncing the action by the female students, and calling on the SUT administration to address the alleged violation of the hijab mandate. Simultaneously, another group of students held a demonstration calling for a gender inclusive dining hall rather than gender segregated dining halls. Students from both groups marched to the dining hall where they reportedly began shouting at each other, giving way to violence. It is unclear what sparked the violence. Some students reportedly broke a door and windows to forcibly enter the dining hall. Students reportedly threw objects at each other. Several university security guards and students sustained injuries during the clash.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about violence and the destruction of campus property during on-campus protests. While students have the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, they also have a responsibility to exercise those rights peacefully and responsibly. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, the use of violent force during demonstrations undermines academic freedom and democratic society generally.