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Ahmadinejad opposes traditionalists, but holds women activists

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By Julie Tomlin
WVoN co-editor

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called for a halt to plans to segregate  male and female students at Iranian universities.

The call represents another battle line in his ongoing tussle with traditionalist rivals in Iran’s government, according to Reuters.

The minister in charge of higher education, Kamran Daneshjoo, has said male and female students should be taught separately when classes begin again in September.

In a message on his website however, Ahmadinejad called for a halt to the policy, which is part of a wider drive to assert Islamic values at Iran’s colleges.

The row over the education of men and women comes amid growing condemnation of the Iranian regime for its treatment of women’s rights activists (see WVoN story).

Following criticism by the UK government on Tuesday (see WVoN story) the European Union’s High Representative, Catherine Ashton, released a statement on Tuesday condemning the recent arrests of women journalists, artists and women’s rights defenders, New Europe reports.

She named photographer Maryam Madj, film-maker Mahnaz Mohammadi, journalist Zahra Yazdani, and women’s rights advocates Maryam Bahrman and Mansoureh Behkish, who were recently arrested.

“I call on Iran to respect the right to freedom of expression, in accordance with its international human rights obligations, and to release these women and other detained women’s-rights defenders immediately,” Ms Ashton said.

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