President’s Office Tells Baha’is They Have No Right to Higher Education

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Source: bahainews1

5 October 2015

Translation by Iran Press Watch
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Anisa Motahar, a Baha’i citizen of Isfahan, who received a two-year suspended sentence in 2011 for “proselytizing and collaboration with anti-government organizations,” and Kiana Rahimi, have been rejected after taking the national university entrance exams; the reason given was “incomplete file”.

When their inquiries for more information went unanswered by the Board of Examination, they appealed to the Office of the President.

In a letter obtained by “BahaiNews”, Miss Motahar gives an account of their meeting with an official in the Office of the President.

When we referred to the website of the Board of Examination for the final results of the 2015 national entrance exams, we encountered the term “incomplete file”!

On 16 September 2015 we went to the National Board of Examination. After registering our letters, the official in charge informed us that the matter was outside the Board’s jurisdiction, and that the Board receives its orders from “higher authorities”. He then gave us a small piece of paper as a receipt for our letters. After thinking it over we came to the conclusion that the “higher authority” responsible for attending to the problems of Iranian citizens could only be the Office of the President, and that as Iranian citizens we should appeal to that office. We delivered our letters of complaint against the Board of Examination, based on its refusal to release the final results and its unfounded claim of an “incomplete file”– to the Office of the President on Pasteur Street in Tehran. (The Board of Examination bars applicants whose file is incomplete from taking the entrance exams, but we had already taken the preliminary exams and had received our results and clearance to choose our subject).

After registering our letters and giving us reference numbers, they referred us to another location to meet with an advisor. Following is our exchange with the advisor in room 107:

–       What is the problem?

–       We took this year’s national university entrance exams, received our grades as well as authorization to choose our subjects, but our final results show an “incomplete file”.

–       What is your religion? The advisor immediately asked.

–       We are Baha’is, but what does that have to do with higher education and attending university?

–       Well, it is totally related. That is precisely the reason! You should have known. You belong to the wayward Baha’i sect. In Iran, we only recognize four religions – Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism – and their adherents have a right to higher education. It is obvious that according to the law, you do not have that right.

–       According to which law?! Our Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaim the right of all to higher education. We are Iranian citizens – we have Iranian birth certificates; how does higher education relate to how we worship God in private? Please show us where to find this law.

–       First of all, we don’t accept human rights laws! We only believe in divine and Islamic laws. Besides, if we say there is a law there must be a law.

–       As far as we know there is no inconsistency between human rights laws and divine laws. The Islamic Republic of Iran has accepted and signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. How can you say you do not accept these laws? Furthermore, Islam teaches justice and the observance of human rights. Do you think this is just?

–       Yes, it is absolutely just. A number of people have written human rights laws that we don’t accept. You belong to a wayward sect! We cannot allow our children to sit next to you at university.

–       The purpose of our visit today is not to discuss religion; we just want to know which article in the Constitution denies us the right to attend university.

–       Who gave you permission to come here?

–       This is the Office of the President; this is where all Iranians may come to resolve their problems – we are also Iranian; to whom should we appeal for a resolution for our predicament? Our goal in seeking higher education and developing our talents is to serve Iran and to assist in its advancement.

–       First of all, Iran has many helpers! She doesn’t need you! Besides, if you had introduced yourselves as Baha’is when you came here, you would not have been allowed to enter under any circumstances!

–       We did not come here to discuss our religious beliefs; we only want to know the legal basis for the “incomplete file” designation. Please cite the source, article and paragraph of this law which denies Baha’is the right to higher education. We would like to learn about it.

–       That is not our responsibility. Go and find it yourselves. We don’t know. There must be a law! You can leave now!

As we were leaving his office we said, “This is the Office of the President. It is surprising and regrettable that you as an “advisor” and the person in charge are ignorant of the law that denies higher education to youth and to a segment of the citizens of Iran!”

We still do not know on the basis of which law we have been denied higher education!

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1. “BahaiNews” is an independent non-Bahá’í initiative and is not affiliated with any Baha’i institutions.

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