from Pressure Points and Middle East Program

Iran Punishes the Baha’i for the Crime of Education

October 18, 2011

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The viciousness of the Iranian regime toward Iranians of the Baha’i faith was displayed again today in the sentencing of seven Baha’i educators to years in prison.

They are professors and officials involved in Baha’i Institute for Higher Education (BIHE). BIHE is an online university created for Baha’i citizens who have been denied the opportunity to study at Iran’s universities. In today’s Iran, creating those educational opportunities is a crime—indeed, the crime of "membership in illegal groups with the intention to commit crimes against Iran’s national security."

Each one of the seven was sentenced to four or five years in prison.

As I wrote here recently, “The main brunt of regime attacks has fallen on the Baha’i faith: just under one hundred Baha’i are in prison now in Iran for no other crime than their religious beliefs. The Baha’i community suffers from persecution reminiscent of the way Jews were treated in Nazi Germany: deprived of jobs, barred from schools, arrested for teaching their children in informal schools, jailed without cause, cemeteries desecrated, religious institutions shut down.”

The crimes of the Iranian regime are many, but the way Baha’i citizens are treated should be cause for special alarm.

Here’s a suggested response: every university everywhere that engages in any form of official exchange with an Iranian university should end it as a form of protest. Perhaps this would create within Iran a stronger lobby of university students, professors, and administrators pressuring the regime to back off on these despicable policies. At the very least it would bring more attention to the way the regime is treating these peaceful citizens.

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