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Before Monday's protests, Iran clamps down on students

BEIRUT, Lebanon — As they gear up for a major antigovernment protest Monday, Iranian students are besieged by a clampdown in the universities, with a wave of arrests and expulsions. At the same time, authorities are intensifying enforcement of Islamic morals on women's dress and men's hair length as a way to punish political dissent.

The students say that authorities have cracked down at campuses nationwide to prevent the demonstrations from becoming widespread and that students recruited by the progovernment Basij militiamen are informing on classmates suspected of being pro-opposition troublemakers.

On Thursday police warned of a tough response if demonstrators try to move outside campuses onto streets. "Any gathering or ceremony outside the designated places will be considered illegal and police will take necessary steps," a statement said.

In telephone interviews from Beirut with more than a half-dozen students in Tehran, the crackdown was described as part of a government campaign to control not only security but also ideas at universities, strongholds of the reform movement that took to the streets after the disputed presidential election in June.

At Tehran's prestigious Sharif University of Technology, members of "herasat," a force of guards and morals police in universities, have been stopping women for wearing clothes that are too colorful or not covering enough. A herasat official uses a cell phone to photograph male students with long hair or those wearing colorful T-shirts, a 23-year-old aerospace student said.

Iran to resist U.N.

An Iranian nuclear official said Friday that Iran will not answer to the United Nations' nuclear watchdog about its plans to build 10 uranium enrichment sites beyond the barest minimum required under the international nonproliferation treaty. The comments by Abolfazl Zohrehvand, an adviser to top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, came days after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran was considering whether to scale back cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency. U.S. officials said Friday that the Obama administration is looking to press in early January for a new round of U.N. sanctions against Iran for its defiance of demands to come clean about its nuclear program.

Before Monday's protests, Iran clamps down on students 12/04/09 [Last modified: Friday, December 4, 2009 10:28pm]
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