Mona Houshmand, a Baha’i Student, Expelled from University of Bojnord

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Source: www.iranwire.com

By Kian Sabeti

Translation by Iran Press Watch 

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More than two and a half months since announcing the file deficiencies of 129 Iranian Baha’i students and depriving them of higher education in September of this year, the expulsion of the small number of Baha’i students in Iranian universities nevertheless continues to occur.

In the latest case, Mona Houshmand, a 2016 freshman Baha’i student, was expelled and prevented from attending Bojnord School of Architecture because of her religious beliefs on October 19, 2016. She told Iranwire how she originally registered at the university: “On October 7th, I enrolled at the University of Bojnord. After receiving my student ID card as an architectural engineering student, I began my studies and attended all my classes.”

On September 28th, the university office contacted her, asking her to complete some information on the Arts and Humanities website. Mona says: “I went to the security office. There were two people present, who at first asked me personal information and then asked about my religion. I told them that my religious beliefs are a private matter and that the law prohibits religious interrogation. They said that they were with the Ministry of Information, and that they were allowed to interfere in private matters of individuals. Then, they said that they knew we were Baha’is and we are not allowed to study at university. I said my educational process had nothing to do with my religion, and that as an Iranian, based on the law I have a right to higher education. But they said, “Based on the university entry exam’s regulations, you as an individual Baha’i did not have a right to take the entry exam to begin with.” Then, they showed me part of the registration form for the entry exam in which it was written that participants in the university entrance exam must be Muslim or one of the nation’s official religious minorities: Christian, Jewish, and Zoroastrian.”

According to this Baha’i student, she was asked to sign a specific form in order for her to continue with her studies. Mona says, “On the upper part of this form it was written, ‘I … no longer belong to the Baha’i community and do not have contacts with any Baha’is.’ They said if I signed this I could continue my studies. On the lower half of the same form, after my name and my last name, it was written that I am a Baha’i and follow the commands of the Universal House of Justice.”

A signature on the lower half of the form means prohibition from higher education. “I tried to convince them that education had nothing to do with my religion but they did not accept it, and insisted that I sign one of the two sections of the form. I signed the lower section of the form; they said that I had 2 to 3 days to change my mind, and if I decided to continue with my studies I could go to them and sign the upper section of the form. I did not accept this and left the office.”

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University personnel have been trying to confiscate her student ID with various trickery, unsuccessfully. “They wanted no evidence of my ever having been a student at Bojnord University to exist.”

After this incident, Mona Houshmand’s father followed up with the University: “When I learned of this incident, I immediately travelled from Shiraz to Bojnord. The vice president of the university did not know about this issue and contacted the president of the university. He then told me that my daughter’s expulsion was because she is a Baha’i, and the National Organization for Educational Testing instructed the university to expel her. He then said that the university is subject to the instructions of this organization. Previously this organization gave permission for her to enroll, but now it instructs that she be expelled.”

University officials have said that the expulsion letter is confidential and they cannot release it. Mona’s father says, “To file a complaint and look into this issue I went to the Supreme Leader’s office at the University of Bojnord. He expressed regret and was uninformed about the situation, then said that he could not do anything about it. Then he wrote a letter under the seal of the Supreme Leader and gave it to me. I gave the letter to the Vice President of the University, which he probably just filed away.”

Few weeks later, he contacted the Supreme Leader’s office at Bojnord University to follow up on that letter: “The person responsible for that office picked up the phone and asked: ‘Who gave you permission to enter the university to begin with? You Baha’is follow a misguided religion that was fabricated by the British, and its purpose is to strike at Islam. It is obvious that your children should not go to university along with other youth.’”

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One Response

  1. Brooks Garis

    December 17, 2016 7:38 am

    Such a good student as Mona Houshmand would be welcome at any university in the world. And while Iran has made wonderful progress in seeing equally to the education of its female citizens, this self-styled ministry of information is making up rules to accommodate its superstition. The ministry’s chief, time-worn superstition is that Baha’is are impure, that they are not the noble people that they clearly are to all who know them. The great history of Islam is that it’s cities fearlessly welcomed all and benefited from the universal storehouse of all the world’s knowledge. To the cities of Islam flocked the skilled craftsmen and artisans from every land, and as they were welcomed, from whatever background, so those cities thrived. So while modern Iran has much to be proud of, this fearful, superstitious nonsense of ‘ritual impurity’ is no holdover from the early days of Islam. It is a fabrication of theocracy a bubble, a made-up boogie man shaken before the public like a dreadful fetish. And like all foolish fetishes, superstitions and baseless inventions, it only retards Iran’s continued progress. We pray that the entity calling itself the ministry of information will genuinely inform itself as to the true innocence of Iran’s Baha’i citizens and restore this eloquent and clear thinking student to her university so she can continue on the path of making a contribution to the progress of her nation.

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