On Campus

Iran may separate women from men in universities

Mingling of sexes "thwarts scientific achievement": leader

Photo courtesy of Hamed Saber on Flickr

Iran’s higher education minister is studying the feasibility of separating men and women in university classes, labs and cafeterias, starting as early as September, reports The National, a newspaper from the United Arab Emirates.

Since the 1979 Islamic revolution, men and women have often segregated themselves in universities by sitting in separate rows.

That’s because many religious conservatives believe it’s immoral for men and women to mix in public. Ayatollah Safi Golpaigani, one of the country’s top religious figures, decreed in June that: “mingling of male and female [students] thwarts scientific achievements and causes great corruption.”

Shadi Sadr, a London-based lawyer and expert in Iran, told The National that the move is an attempt by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to rally his socially-conservative voter base ahead of the February 2012 elections.

Some students will surely be opposed. Tehran University students protested the requirement that men and women ride separately to class by boarding buses together in April. The university was also an important gathering place during the failed Green Revolution protests of June 2009.