Honor Student Barred from Completing Graduate Studies Because of His Religious Faith
Member of Yarasan Religious Minority is Expelled from Razi University in Iran
Siavash Hayati, spokesman for the minority Yarasan faith, was prohibited from completing his master’s degree and expelled from Razi University in Kermanshah, western Iran, for refusing to renounce his religious beliefs.
“At the university’s security office and the office for graduate studies, they told me to change my declaration of faith and write down I’m a Muslim, otherwise there was nothing they could do to help me,” Hayati said in an interview with the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on November 7, 2019.
Hayati added: “They wanted me to deny my faith. I said that would be a lie; I’m won’t do it. I told them I’m not a religious zealot, but just as they were born in a Shia family and called Shi’ites, I was born in Yarasan family and I believe in human values. Even people who have no religious beliefs have the right to live and get an education.”
Hayati continued: “We had a lot of discussions and it seemed like they were sincere but the fact remains they wanted to change me. I made some inquiries and found out that they had forced all the Yarasan students to say they are Muslims to be able to enroll in graduate studies.”
Established in the 14th century as a branch of Sufi Islam, the Yarasan faith, also known as A’een Yari, Kish Haghighat, Tayefeh San, Aliollahi and Kakaee, is based mostly in the Kurdish-populated areas of western and northwestern Iran.
The Yarasan Community Civil Activists Society lists the “preservation of religious identity,” “achieving national reconciliation,” “seeking freedom,” “seeking equality among all citizens” and “ending all forms of discriminations” as its objectives.
Since the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979, many Yarasan followers have complained of discrimination, mainly because they are not recognized in Iran’s constitution as an “official” religion along with Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism.
“They told me I had identified myself as a Yarasan in the university’s registration forms but the Constitution doesn’t recognize my faith and based on the Supreme Cultural Revolution Council’s directive, I don’t have the right to continue my graduate studies,” Hayati said.
The Yarasan spokesman told CHRI that he had been barred from defending his master’s thesis in education studies at Razi University, despite being an honor student with the highest grades in his class and a top candidate for the PhD program.
“In August (2019) I was scheduled to defend my thesis but they wouldn’t let me. I went to the officials and asked for a written explanation. But they wouldn’t do it because they knew it would turn into a human rights issue.
“Then they told me I was engaged in activities outside the university. I said what I do outside is none of the university’s business. Has a court convicted me of a crime? I haven’t even been cautioned once by the university’s disciplinary committee.”
Read this article in Persian.