So the news is making the rounds: despite what Iran’s international representatives may say, Baha’is are persecuted in Iran—and it starts from all the way at the top.
On the heels of a recent press release denouncing the expulsions of Baha’i students from Iranian universities, the Baha’i World News Service (BWNS) offers proof of the existence of a systematic campaign to deny Baha’is the right to higher education. This in itself is nothing new—according to the Baha’i International Community’s website Closed Doors: Iran’s Campaign to Deny Higher Education to Baha’is, such systematic denial of education goes at least all the way back to the Iranian Revolution of 1979. So why is it newsworthy today?
Until very recently, entrance exams for Iranian universities contained a mandatory “Religion” field. Baha’is who attempted to submit their exams were automatically rejected. After 25 years of being barred from any sort of access to university education, a change in government policy—dropping the infamous “Religion” field—allowed hundreds of hopeful Baha’is to take university entrance examinations this year. A sudden sharp rise in expulsions of Baha’i students followed, however—giving rise to the suspicion that the “change” in government policy was simply a ploy to appease fierce international protest. Today, this suspicion is looking more and more justified. Iranian Baha’is who seek higher education are being sent through a revolving door—and are being forced out the way they came in.
Official character of Baha’i expulsions in Iranian university revealed
NEW YORK, 7 March 2007 (BWNS) — The Baha’i International Community has obtained a document that appears to confirm double-dealing by Iran in its policy towards Baha’i students seeking higher education.
The document, a 2 November 2006 letter from the headquarters of Payame Noor University to its regional branches, states that it is government policy that Baha’i students “cannot enroll” in Iranian universities and that if they are already enrolled, “they should be expelled.”
“This document provides proof of Iran’s duplicitous behavior regarding Iranian Baha’i students,” said Bani Dugal, the Baha’i International Community’s principal representative to the United Nations.
“In its public face, Iran claims that it has finally opened the doors to Baha’i students, after some 25 years of keeping them out of public and private universities in Iran,” said Ms. Dugal.
“But, as evidenced by this confidential memorandum from the Payame Noor central office, the real policy is apparently to simply expel Baha’is as soon as they can be identified.”