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: September 28, 2023

Attack Types: Loss of Position

Institution(s):Shiraz University

Region & Country:Southern Asia | Iran

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On September 28, 2023, it was reported that Shiraz University had dismissed Parisa Pourmohammadi, a professor of archaeology in the Faculty of Arts, in early September.

The university provided no official reason for terminating Pourmohammadi’s contract, a decision that was communicated to her by phone. However, it is widely speculated that the termination is linked to Pourmohammadi’s online posts expressing support for the “Women, Life, Freedom” protest movement.

Pourmohammadi’s dismissal comes amid indications that the Iranian government is working to “cleanse” universities of dissent. 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 a member of the faculty in apparent retaliation for exercising her right to freedom of expression. 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.