Segregation in Iran

June 9, 2006

The Government in Iran is denying Bah '!s access to education as part of an effort to undermine the viability of an entire community.

This must be recognised as a systematic attack on human rights through the deliberate abuse of education policy.

Bah '!s are prevented by government policy from studying or teaching in Iran's universities unless they first recant their faith. Two years ago, it seemed this policy might change. The authorities said that religious affiliation would no longer appear on the application form for the university entrance exam. About 1,000 Bahá'ís took the exam, which required applicants to answer a test on religion. Most took the test on Islam, the religion that they have most familiarity with after their own. When the results were posted, the students learnt that they had been listed as Muslims. Pleas for correction went unheeded, and the process was repeated the following year.

The Bahá'í students are now in a worse position than before because they are now listed as Muslim, a serious matter since converting from Islam to another religion can attract a death sentence.

Even more ominously, a senior UN official recently revealed that Iran's military and police had been told to monitor and identify the Bahá'ís.

Access to education is a fundamental human right. Yet it is being systematically denied to Iran's Bah '!s. If this abuse goes unchecked, it will set a terrible precedent with grave implications for the manipulation of education to serve repressive ends. Academics in France have raised their voices in solidarity with these young Bahá'í and called on Iran's Government to end cultural segregation and to allow all Iranians to enter university. We the undersigned, none of whom is Bah '!, join their appeal, and we hope that educational professionals across the UK will also.

Stephen Chan

School of Oriental and African Studies

Jonathan Powers

University of Derby

Stuart Ball

University of Leicester

Erol Gelenbe

Imperial College London

Robert Cook

University of Sheffield

Roger Ford

University of Salford

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