Iran universities to withhold services from women who refuse to wear hijab

Teachers encouraged to promote headscarf as Tehran vows to prosecute unveiled women 'without mercy'

Students at the Sharif University of Technology in Tehran attend a protest following the death in police custody of Mahsa Amini. AP
Powered by automated translation

Universities in Iran are to bar female students who refuse to wear the hijab from education services, officials have said.

The Ministry of Science, Research and Technology said all universities and higher education centres under its supervision will be able to bar female students who do not wear a hijab from educational and welfare services, according to a statement carried by the judiciary's Mizan news agency.

An education official from the Ministry of Health said medical schools "are prohibited from providing any services to students without the Islamic hijab".

The move comes as the Iranian government signals stricter enforcement of hijab laws after months ofnationwide protests triggered by the death of Mahsa Amini, 21, the custody of the morality police last September.

She had been detained in Tehran three days earlier for wearing her hijab "improperly".

The death of Ms Amini death sparked public fury and demonstrations across the country. Women burnt headscarves and called for regime change.

On Saturday, Iran's judiciary chief threatened to prosecute women not wearing the hijab "without mercy".

Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei said not wearing a hijab was "tantamount to enmity with [our] values" and would be "punished and prosecuted without mercy".

His warning followed a statement from the Ministry of the Interior describing covering up as “one of the civilisational foundations of the Iranian nation," adding there would be no “retreat or tolerance” on the issue.

Women in Iran have been required to cover their hair and wear loose-fitting clothing in public since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, although many women oppose the rules.

They are also banned from singing and dancing in public.

Two women were arrested last week after a man attacked them with yoghurt, apparently for not covering their hair in public.

Video of the incident went viral on social media.

The judiciary said the women were detained on charges of showing their hair in public, while the man was held for disturbing public order.

Also on Sunday, the Ministry of Education published a set of guidelines for institutes, asking teachers to "pay special attention" to the hijab and "chastity".

It said teachers should use textbooks to explain the necessity of the hijab and chastity and "enrich" student's leisure time by encouraging student organisations in the field.

Other guidelines to promote wearing the hijab followed, including using "popular figures" and Olympians to explain the hijab and Islamic culture.

Schoolgirls and university students have been vocal in the protests and have found themselves facing a government backlash.

A spate of poisonings — suspected to be gas attacks — have been reported at girls' schools across Iran since November.

Human rights groups and activists claimed the government was behind the attacks, while Tehran has blamed protesters.

Updated: April 03, 2023, 11:25 AM