SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: February 02, 2023

Attack Types: Loss of Position

Institution(s):Ferdowsi University of Mashhad

Region & Country:Southern Asia | Iran

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On February 2, 2023, it was reported that 11 professors at the Ferdowsi University of Mashhad (FUM) were fired in apparent retaliation for their support for student protests over the death of a young woman who was in the custody of so-called “morality police.”

Starting on September 17, protests spread across Iran, including at various universities, following the death-in-custody of Jina Amini (also known as Mahsa Amini) after so-called “morality police” detained her. Police and security forces have responded to the protests with violence and arrests.

On February 2, the Iranian Student Council Union posted on its Telegram account that 11 professors of FUM were dismissed for “accompanying, supporting, and defending the rights of students.” One of the professors, Mahshid Gohari also posted the news on her Instagram account.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about a higher education institution dismissing faculty for exercising their right to freedom of expression — conduct that is expressly protected by international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Higher education officials should respect scholars’ exercise of such rights and refrain from disciplinary actions that punish or deter nonviolent expressive activity. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, disciplinary actions intended to deter or punish support for student protests on campus undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.