The first major government offensive against students that I am old enough to remember took place on the night of July 9, 1999. Earlier that day, students at the University of Tehran clashed with police as they protested the closure of the reformist-run Salaam newspaper. Late that night, once they were back indoors, their dormitories were raided by militiamen. Clashes persisted for another two days on North Amirabad Avenue.
All political factions within Iran had to react. Abdollah Nouri (the impeached interior minister), Mousavi Lari (the interior minister of the time), Mostafa Moin (minister of higher education) and Hadi Khamenei (the leader’s brother), visited the protesting students. The leader made a speech in which he compared the assault on the dormitories to people going into homes without permission. He famously said, “Even if some rip my photos, do not react,” prompting the audience to burst into tears.
That year, the final exams, which take place at the end of July, were pushed back three months and the University of Tehran was closed and the dormitories emptied.