Translation by Iran Press Watch
A Baha’i’s response to the Questions of the Commission of Article 90 of the Constitution1
HRANA – In the past few days, a representative of the Commission of Article 90 of the Constitution in contact with a Baha’i citizen has asked why the profession of optometrist is so popular among Baha’is. This citizen, in an open letter, mentions his optometry shop, which has been sealed for the last nine years, and describes the limitations on the Baha’i community with respect to education and employment.
Please read the full content of this letter as transcribed by HRANA:
I was contacted by the Commission of Article 90 of the Constitution a few days ago, and have been asked two questions. I would like to respond to one of them related to Iranian Baha’i optometrists which has created some doubts for the Commission.
It was asked why the profession of optometrist is so popular among Iranian Baha’is.
I present two reasons in response to this question;
1. The importer of the science of optometry, glasses, and lenses from Europe to Iran were two Baha’i brothers, about 90 years ago. Baha’i apprentices in Iran continued in this profession after learning this new field independently, and so naturally the number of Baha’is in this field had a significant increase in the pre-revolutionary period.
2. The second and more important reason relates to the post-revolution period, which in fact has fostered the growth of the number of Baha’i entrants in this field. As an example, I was eager to continue my education in engineering when I was 18, but because of the discrimination that exists among the higher authorities against the pursuit of higher education among Baha’is I was prevented from studying in my preferred field.
At the same time, adverse publicity rose sharply among the people of Iran against Baha’is becoming apprenticed with Muslim employers in other professions, so that has also been very hard.
In those days of my youth, I had a choice of two jobs: one was my father’s profession, in which I had no interest, and the other was optometry. There was an optometry shop in our neighborhood whose owner was a Baha’i, and he needed an apprentice. With limited job options, I inevitably chose optometry and became an optometrist.
I know of many Baha’is who were fired from their jobs after the revolution. Inasmuch as they were married and had children, they were in dire need of a livelihood. They were supported by Baha’i optometrists, and so joined this profession.
In fact, all Iranian Baha’i youth have been prevented from achieving their favorite professions and academic careers because they are prevented from attending college, and so have only a very limited choice of career. Still under these constrained circumstances the Ministry of Information has created much more limiting conditions in which the Baha’is have been prohibited from working at jobs in the supermarket, restaurant, deli and other industries in which they do not even have the right to work.
Now imagine: with the numerous limitations which have been placed on the ability of Baha’i citizens to choose their preferred jobs in Iran ‒ just like me, how many career options would they have to make a living?
Does posing the question of why most Baha’is in Iran pursue optometry as a profession sound correct?
If you allow me and people like me to attend college and follow our preferred professions, then you would be able to see if any of the Baha’is would like to become an optometrist or not, at this age!
As you are well aware, conditions have become more difficult and more limited, and my optometry shop has been sealed for about 9 years in the city of Nazarabad.
Now please tell us which profession we should choose to provide our livelihood?
(signed) A Baha’i Citizen
The identity of the author is protected by HRANA.