“You Know What Your Problem Is:” Young Man Expelled From Iranian University For His Baha’i Faith
A young man has been expelled from the University of Gilan in northern Iran because of his Baha’i faith in another example of Iranian universities discriminating against students for their religious beliefs without consequences.
A source close to Arash Razavian told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on May 9, 2018, that the student was informed he was expelled via a letter by the university’s security office in March 2018.
“When Arash went to the university’s security office on March 17 to ask why he had been expelled, he was told they don’t know why and he should ask the Education Evaluation Organization (EEO),” said the source who requested anonymity for security reasons.
Continued the source: “The next day he went to the EEO and was told he was ‘generally unqualified’ to continue his studies. When he insisted to know what that meant, they said, ‘You know what your problem is; you know why you were expelled from the university.”
“When Arash told EEO officials that the Constitution gives everyone the right to education, they said only believers in the four official religions [Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism] have that right,” said the source.
Iran’s Constitution does not recognize the Baha’i faith as an official religion. Although Article 23 states that “no one may be molested or taken to task simply for holding a certain belief,” followers of the faith are denied many basic rights as one of the most severely persecuted religious minorities in the country.
For example, Baha’is continue to be denied the right to higher education in Iran, either by being banned from enrolling in university or being expelled without a proper explanation once enrolled in the school.
Added the source: “On the university enrollment form he had declared his religion as ‘other’ and got accepted without any problem. He studied for four semesters and still didn’t face any problems. Now after studying for two years and spending all this money, this has happened.”
Razavian, a 20-year-old Baha’i resident of the city of Rasht, was admitted to the University of Gilan to study physics after passing the national university exams in 2016.
Other members of Razavian’s family were disqualified even before they could take the national university exams, the source told CHRI.
Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in New York on April 23, 2018, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif denied Baha’is are persecuted in Iran for their religious beliefs.
“Being a Baha’i is not a crime,” he said, adding that Iran doesn’t imprison people based solely on their religious beliefs.
In November 2017, three Iranians who had complained to state officials after being denied university education for being Baha’i were sentenced to five years in prison each for the charges of “membership in the anti-state Baha’i cult” and “publishing falsehoods.”
Lawyers representing Rouhieh Safajoo (21), Sarmad Shadabi (22), and Tara Houshmand (21) were informed of the prison terms issued by Judge Mohammad Moghisseh of Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran on November 4, 2017.