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: December 28, 2023

Attack Types: Loss of Position

Institution(s):Ferdowsi University of Mashhad

Region & Country:Southern Asia | Iran

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On December 28, 2023, Alireza Azad, a professor of theology at Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, announced on Instagram that he had been dismissed for supporting protesting students.

According to Azad, he was dismissed because he refused to deny signing a letter in support of students involved in the “Women, Life, Freedom” protest movement. Azad’s Instagram post includes a video of him removing his belongings from his office and leaving campus.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about a higher education institution dismissing a member of the faculty in apparent retaliation for exercising their 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 victim, disciplinary actions intended to deter or punish support for student protests on campus undermine academic freedom and and harms related higher education values including autonomy and social responsibility.