The chancellor of a university on Iran's Kish Island has reportedly resigned following a graduation ceremony where female students appeared without head-coverings, defying hijab rules.
Photos and videos published on social media showed the majority of girls at a small graduation ceremony on Kish Island's international campus of Sharif University of Technology wearing graduation hats with their hair flowing over their shoulders instead of covered with headscarves.
In a publicly released letter to the university's board of trustees on Saturday, Ali Selk-Ghaffari, the university's chancellor, offered his resignation. He referred to the girls' action as "outside [accepted] norms" and expressed regret that some alumnae had not complied with "academic regulations and dignity."
Kish Island, off the southern coast of Iran in the Persian Gulf with a population of around 40,000, is a free trade zone and a very popular destination of tourists. The international campus of Sharif University of Technology, one of Iran's most prestigious universities, has around 900 students.
The girls' bold defiance of compulsory hijab has angered pro-establishment media and social media users, leading to criticism of authorities for perceived lapses in enforcing hijab rules.
In a statement on Saturday, the public relations department of Sharif University of Technology reported that the chancellor and educational deputy of the university refused to stay in the ceremony until the end and left the venue due to observed violations of hijab rules during the awards ceremony.
In its statement, the university apologized to the “esteemed families of martyrs, veterans and all who are devoted to the Islamic Republic” and vowed to take serious and immediate action against those who defied the rules as well as others whose carelessness caused the incident.
Graduation ceremony without hijab is disdaining the existence of the Islamic Republic! From the south to the north of the country, from the east to the west, progressive students have taken sleep from the eyes of the [regime] criminals, oppressors and bullies!,”Daneshjooyan-e Pishro (Progressive Students), a loose network of dissident students which has been active in various universities since 2019, tweeted about the incident.
Other student groups have also welcomed Sharif University’s defiance of hijab at their graduation ceremony. A student newsletter run by dissident students at Tehran’s Amirkabir University of Technology called their move “civil disobedience”.
Since Mahsa Amini’s death in custody after being arrested for what morality police considered as “unfitting hijab” in September last year which sparked several months of protests across the country, particularly in universities, defiance of hijab has hugely grown in the Islamic Republic.
In recent months authorities have adopted a strict initiative to enforce the hijab rules at any cost including measures such as impounding cars if passengers defy the hijab rules, shutting down businesses such as cafes, restaurants, and shopping malls, and banned hijab-defiant celebrities from acting in films.
In October authorities revoked the medical license of a female surgeon in Amol in northern Iran after she appeared at a public awards ceremony on Doctors Day without wearing the hijab. Dr Fatemeh Rajayi-Rad was forced to appear in full hijab on state media and apologize for causing offense.
In another instance, the CEO of a prominent pharmaceutical company, Haleh Hamedifard, who had a headscarf on, was denied entry to the health ministry to attend a meeting with the officials because hijab enforcers stationed at the ministry said the tunic she had worn over trousers was too short.