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: August 26, 2023

Attack Types: Loss of Position

Institution(s):Allameh Tabataba’i University

Region & Country:Southern Asia | Iran

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On August 26, 2023, Allameh Tabataba’i University dismissed two psychology professors, Ameneh Aali and Hamideh Khademi, for their support for students involved in the “Women, Life, Liberty” protest movement.

The professors were notified of their dismissal via a phone call by the dean of the faculty of psychology and did not receive any other official notice. During the call, the dean reportedly informed them that they were being dismissed because of their previous support of student protesters. In an interview with Dideban Iran, Aali stated that she and Khandemi “signed the statements, accompanied the student sit-ins, and protested the suspension of the students.” Aali and Khandemi requested a written notice of their dismissals but were denied.

Observers have reported that the pace at which professors have been dismissed from their positions accelerated in August 2023, ahead of the start of the new school year.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about a higher education institution dismissing faculty members in retaliation for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and assembly. 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 harms related higher education values including autonomy and social responsibility.