Bahai education blocked in Iran
Following the 1979 Islamic revolution, Bahais were at first barred from all forms of education and any Bahai teachers were to be dismissed from their jobs. Although their access to school education was reinstated in the late 1980s, access to university education was not: a Supreme Revolutionary Council decree of February 25, 1991, stated that:
The Government's dealings with the Bahais must be such that their progress is blocked . . . they must be expelled from universities, either in the admission process or during the course of their studies, once it becomes known that they are Bahais.
Hence, for the past decade the Iran- ian Bahai community has organised an open-university style "Bahai Institute of Higher Education". But, in October 1998, 36 members of its faculty were arrested (of whom four remain in prison). At the same time, 500 Bahai homes were raided and textbooks, computers and furniture were seized by the Government's intelligence agency. (When queried about the seizure of the personal household effects, the officers claimed they had been authorised by the Ministry of Information to take anything they wished.)
Iran is signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which condemns religious discrimination, and as the nation modernises it will have to find ways of accommodating not only the Christian but also the Bahai community. Freedom for religious belief is an essential component of academic freedom, and we call on Islamic scholars to help re-establish, in Iran and elsewhere, the tradition of tolerance that has characterised some of the greatest Muslim civilisations.