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: April 12, 2023

Attack Types: Loss of Position

Institution(s):Al Zahra University

Region & Country:Southern Asia | Iran

New or Ongoing:New Incident

Around April 12, 2023, the disciplinary committee at Al Zahra University suspended Niloofar Mirzaei, a graphic arts student, because of her arrest for participating in protests in November 2022.

During its deliberation on her case, the disciplinary committee reportedly refused to allow Mirzaei to present any written or verbal defense. Mirzaei was suspended from her studies for two semesters.

Mirzaei was originally arrested on November 10, 2022 (see report) during nationwide protests that emerged following the death of Mahsa Amini while in custody of the “morality police.” Mirzaei was released after 40 days in detention.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the expulsion of a student in retaliation for protest activity. Higher education authorities should refrain from such disciplinary actions and respect students’ exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, disciplinary actions intended to deter or punish organized student expression undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.