After assuming his new position as the Minister of Higher Education in Iran, Mr. Jafar Toufighi, in repeated statements has declared that no student would be blacklisted for political or religious beliefs or affiliations in the new academic year. However, reports on the site of the Bureau of Evaluation1 show that under the section of “Admission”, the phrase “Incomplete Files” has been recorded by the names of many Baha’i applicants when the final results of the nationwide Exam for 2013 were announced.
In a short essay on his personal website on Friday September 13th, Mohammad Nourizad, a known journalist and avid critic of the regime in Iran, confirmed the news of the Minister’s statement after talking to an official source in the Ministry of Higher Education. Quoting the source, he declared that “the claim of incomplete files is an unreasonable excuse” to deprive Baha’i students of higher education.
Based on this official’s report, Mr. Nourizad stated that a total number of 30 Baha’i students were denied admission this year. He wrote: “In the domain of higher education, wherever you see this “Incomplete Files” statement, know and be aware that for sure the applicants in question are Baha’is, and that this claim is a nonsensical excuse to expel them. After all, if their files are not complete, they can never get a chance to select a major.”
The “Incomplete Files” phrase was previously used for some PhD candidates this academic year at the preliminary stages of the exam. However, the head of the Bureau of Evaluation announced that the insertion of this phrase “by no means is an indication of the disqualification of these students…, [rather] …these applicants did not send in a completed form; after submitting it and receiving an acknowledgement, they can resume their education, and they shouldn’t worry about anything.”
In an interview with Mehr News on September 5th, Ebrahim Khodaee2 emphasized that “these candidates who have passed the exam must be assured that no one has taken their spots, and their places are reserved for them. The Bureau has contacted them to ask them fill out the qualification forms3. They can go on with their education after completion of their files.”
Although these statements increased the optimism for students not to be deprived from their studies in this academic year, the issue of Baha’i students facing with the phrase “Incomplete Files”, as reported on the site of the “Bureau of the Evaluation” at the end of nationwide Entrance Exam this year, is an indication that it is “business as usual” for this new government as it relates to this group of Iranians.
It is interesting to know that despite Article 19 of the constitution of the Islamic Republic, which clearly states “The people of Iran, regardless of their race and tribe, have equal rights and will not be discriminated against based on their color, ethnicity, and language and so on”, Baha’i citizens have been deprived of the right to attend institutions of higher education in recent years. According to legislation of the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution, only the followers of the “divine religions”, limited to Zoroastrians, Jews, Christians and Muslims, are allowed to pursue higher education.
Translation by Iran Press Watch
1- The organization in charge of conducting the nationwide Entrance Exam
2- Head of the Bureau of Evaluation
3- A form asking about applicants’ religious beliefs, among other things. Iran’s governing system only recognizes four religions — Islam, Judaism, Christianity and Zoroastrianism. Insofar as members of the Baha’i Faith believe that a new Prophet has come after Muhammad, the regime refuses to recognize Baha’is as members of a legitimate religion. Baha’is are therefore denied the right which all other Iranian citizens enjoy to higher education. When they do not lie on the application, and therefore state their actual religion (as their faith compels them to do), Baha’is are prevented from matriculating.