Monday, June 16, 2008

Students protest sexual harassment in Iran university

TEHRAN-16 June 2008

Thousands of university students in an Iranian city have held a protest against the attempted sexual harassment of a female colleague by a top university official, the press reported on Monday.
About 3,000 students at the university in the northwestern city of Zanjan staged the sit-in protest over the weekend at a sports hall on campus, the reports said.
They demanded that the board of directors resign and an apology from the higher education minister following the alleged offence committed by the vice chancellor, the reformist Etemad newspaper said.
The vice chancellor is alleged to have sexually harassed the girl while she was in his office to resolve a problem with the committee of conduct -- a disciplinary body which monitors students' activities, the reports said.
"Students broke into the vice president's office and handed him over to security after finding out that he had sought to (sexually) harass a student," Etemad said.
Its report said the unnamed official had on several occasions tried to shut down the students' Islamic association "under the pretext that its members have moral problems and do not have an Islamic behaviour."
ISNA news agency reported later on Monday that the official in question had been suspended until investigations were completed.
"We have asked the students to present relevant evidence because this issue needs further examination," Zanjan university director Ali Reza Naddaf told ISNA.
Naddaf called on the students to keep calm and pursue the matter legally "as some students are after their political aims."
"Unfortunately some hardline students today forcefully prevented entry of the staff and academics and did not allow exams to be held," he added.
Etemad newspaper said it had received a film of "the details of university incidents" while a video of the students breaking into the vice-chancellor's office has appeared on YouTube.
Iranian universities are a hotbed of student activism and protests are common despite stricter control on campus since the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to power in 2005.
In April, students at a university in the northwestern city of Tabriz held a week-long protest against strict rules and 17 were hospitalised after going on a hunger strike.
Scores of pro-reform student activists have been detained and in the most high profile case three students were sentenced to jail terms of up to three years on charges of publishing anti-Islamic images in student newspapers.
The trio studied in Tehran's prestigious Amir Kabir university where Ahmadinejad was famously heckled during a speech in 2006. (KhaleejTimes)

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