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Students Protest In Iran

More evidence of Iran's younger generation challenging the powers that be. A sex scandal has resulted in an unprecedented student protest at Zanjan University in northwest Iran. The protest started after a senior university official was apparently caught sexually harassing a female student. The young woman had been summoned to the office of the university's deputy head, Hassan Madadi, when students broke in. The video of the incident posted on YouTube has received over 185 000 hits. (The guy getting pushed around is Madadi.)

The students ended their protest on June 18, after some of their demands were met, including the dismissal of Madadi, whose case has been reportedly referred to the judiciary. Some conservatives, including the hard-line "Kayhan" daily, have already weighed in and accused the students of entrapping Madadi in retaliation for his outlawing of their Islamic association.

State pressure on universities has increased in recent years. Scores of student activists have been detained, appeared in court, or banned for their "political activism." Those "activists" have accused Ahmadinejad of creating a "cultural revolution" in universities. If there are protests, students' demands are not normally met. But, in this case, it seems the students of Zanjan at least partially got what they wanted. Could be an important precedent.

-- Golnaz Esfandiari

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