Highest Ranking Student Barred for Being Baha’i

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[On Monday, 6 October 2008, the prestigious organization Human Rights Activists in Iran published the following letter by a Baha’i student under file number 87-1073:  http://www.hrairan.com/Archive_87/1095.html. This letter is offered below in translation. Ahang Rabbani.]

My name is Sima Haqiqat-Muhlebani, daughter of Isma’il, and my birth certificate number is 5287, issued in Tehran.  I was born in 1961.  After 24 years of being barred from attending institutions of higher education in Iran and being deprived of furthering my education solely on the ground of my belief in the Baha’i Faith, I participated in the nationwide college entrance examination.

Since my husband had served in the armed forces, and in the course of defending the nation had become a prisoner-of-war (POW) of the Iraqi military, and since after he regained his freedom our family was entitled to the benefits of former POWs, I took advantage of these benefits and studied humanities and linguistics.  I then participated in the national college entrance exam [in 2005].

When the results were announced, I learned that nationwide I ranked first in the nation in linguistics and eighth in social sciences.

Even though the exam’s report card did not have a space for “religion”, I noticed that “Muslim” was entered for me.  I approached the authorities on several occasions, and was told that “Islam” is automatically placed on the report card of all top-ranking students.  Therefore, shortly after other students, I selected my major and was certain that given my scores in the national exam, I would be able to enroll in the first university of my choice.  However, to my utter surprise, I learned that no university had accepted me!

I wrote several appeals to the Education Measurement and Evaluation Organization, but no response was given, and it appeared that the authorities conducted no investigation.

It was evident that because of being a Baha’i and despite ranking first and eighth in linguists and humanities, respectively, once again, as for the previous 24 years, though this time through a different system, I was barred from entering universities and continuing my education.

The following year, in 2006, once again I participated in the nationwide college entrance exam, but this time without taking advantage of our POW benefits.  Once again, I was ranked as having one of the highest scores in linguistics, which typically would allow the student to pick any university of her choosing. However, that year, because of appeals of Baha’i students, the Education Measurement and Evaluation Organization automatically disbarred all Baha’i students from university entrance.

I tried again the following year and received a permit to participate in the national college entrance exam, which by itself indicates that my file and records were complete.  After completing the exam, instead of receiving the test results, “incomplete file” was marked against my name and no report card was issued.

I appealed to appropriate authorities and to the Education Measurement and Evaluation Organization, which was utterly fruitless.  Once again, as in all the years before, I, along with all other Baha’i students, were denied access to institutions of higher education solely because we are Baha’is.

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2 Responses

  1. Marty Flick

    October 8, 2008 4:25 am

    One of the sad, strange features of any so-called ‘revolutionary’ movements is the manner in which the intellectual capital of the country is decimated. It’s obvious to me that the way Iran is doing this is to send applicants back to a Byzantine maze of bureaucracy, to fake the reality [and hopefully cloak it], so they can say to the world “We’re not mistreating them physically, we’ve just sighted a discrepancy in their records.” My hopes and prayers are with these students, whatever their ranking.

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  2. Valerie Senyk

    October 8, 2008 5:31 pm

    It saddens me to hear of this continued oppression in Iran of the Baha’is, especially students. As an educator in Canada, I find this oppression particularly repugnant. Shame on the Iranian government; they are making a mockery of Mohammed’s beautiful teachings regarding acceptance of other religions and peoples! I too have read the Koran, and the Bible, and the Baha’i sacred writings…

    Reply

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