By ARASH AZIZI
The Cost of Discrimination1 is the story of discrimination in Iran and South Africa. The documentary film examines life under South African Apartheid and draws parallels with Iranian authorities’ continued persecution of the Baha’i religious minority in Iran.
The Apartheid system, which was in place from 1948 until 1991, is one of the most well-known crimes against human rights of the 20th century. By contrast, the persecution of the followers of the Baha’i Faith, the Islamic Republic’s largest minority religion, remains largely unknown. The Baha’i faith was founded in Iran in the 19th century, and is driven by a strong belief in gender equality, the value of education and a commitment to improving society. Instead of integrating Baha’is into society, the leaders of Iran have relentlessly vilified, oppressed and discriminated against them, a situation that has worsened since the Islamic revolution of 1979.
Although the Baha’i faith started in Iran, it is an international religion, and Bahai’s live in many countries around the world, with some statistics putting their international population at around five million.
The Cost of Discrimination narrates the lives of Baha’i South Africans from all backgrounds — white, black, “colored,” and also those of Iranian heritage who have lived in and witnessed persecution in both societies. Among those IranWire interviewed for the film are a former advisor to Nelson Mandela who had to flee Iran and became a leading South African economist, elder blacks in Soweto who remember the most horrendous years of Apartheid, and a retired air force intelligence officer from the Afrikaner community.