Mohammad Zolfaghari

More than 200 Students Expelled from University Due to Religious Belief

More than 200 Baha’i students have reportedly been denied entry to universities in Iran despite successfully passing the national admissions tests.

The largest non-Muslim minority in Iran, the Bahais, are persecuted in many ways – one being that they are forbidden from attending university. Some study in secret, but for those who want to do a postgraduate degree the only solution is to leave their country and study abroad. The number of Baha’is who have been deprived of entering universities in the current year is more than 200. They were all denied entry solely for believing in their faith, Baha’ism.

All of the Baha’i applicants who checked their test results online received a short message saying, “Dear applicant, there’s a flaw in your dossier. Please contact the Response Unit of the Appraisal Agency.”

Iran officials have not yet reacted to the news.

The Baha’is insist their faith is not a secret matter and is usually reflected in their high-school applications, where students are required to specify their religion. Denying Baha’is entry to universities in Iran is not an unprecedented matter. Even dozens of Baha’is who have successfully passed the national examinations and other hurdles to continue their education at the university level have been forced to drop out, even after several years. The Baha’is are being treated as second rate citizens in their country, Iran. They are not allowed to gain college admission or hold government positions. They are routinely harassed, discriminated, and their properties get confiscated.

Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, Baha’is have been systematically persecuted as a matter of government policy. During the first decade of this persecution, more than 200 Baha’is were killed or executed, hundreds more were tortured or imprisoned, and tens of thousands lost jobs, access to education, and other rights – all solely because of their religious belief.

The authorities stepped up the persecution of the Baha’i community, accusing its members of having links with or spying for Israel, mainly because the Baha’i governing body, the Seat of the Universal House of Justice, is based in Haifa.

According to Article 1 of Iran’s Supreme Cultural Revolution Council’s Student Qualification Regulations, approved by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in 1991, students who take the national enrollment exam must either be Muslim or followers of other constitutionally sanctioned religions. Article 3 states that if a student is discovered to be a Baha’i after enrolling in a university, he or she will be expelled.

About the Author
Mohammad Zolfaghari is a Baha'i News reporter and human rights defender who worked exclusively on Human Rights Violations especially religious minorities in Iran and as a documentary maker with Amnesty International. Lives in Norway.
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