Baha’i Student Expelled from University for Her Religious Beliefs
Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Romina Asgari, who was enrolled in a Master’s program in Tehran’s Islamic Azad University (IAU) (1), has been expelled for her Baha’i faith. She was enrolled for four semesters before being barred from continuing her education.
In a letter by the IAU, the reason for her expulsion was cited as “non-conforming social behaviour and attempts to disturb the country’s security, peace and order”. However, Ms Asgari was reportedly absent from the University for the past six months and had been on academic leave for one semester.
Contrary to the letter of the law (2) , the Supreme Cultural Revolution Council (3) has adopted a policy that bars members of the Baha’i religious minority group from university education and employment in public services. Every year, many reports are published about Baha’i students who have been barred from university. The ban includes students who have been accepted to university but have not yet started the school year.
UN special rapporteurs on the situation of human rights in Iran have continuously protested against the Iranian authorities’ anti-Baha’i policies and practices – in particular barring Baha’i students from university education – and deemed these practices as instances of the Iranian authorities violating their international commitments.
Based on unofficial reports, there are 300,000 members of the Baha’i faith in Iran, but lack of recognition of their religion by Iran’s constitution has been used as justification for the systematic denial of their rights. Systematic infringements on the rights of Baha’is contravenes Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (4) and Article 18 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (5) , both of which guarantee the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion.
(1) Islamic Azad University is a network of universities established after the 1979 revolution with branches all across Iran. Unlike Iranian public universities, they charge, at times hefty, tuition fees, and they impose much stricter disciplinary and Islamic dress code. However, they provide access to university education in remote areas. It is governed by a board of trustees who have been taken over recently by hardliners close to Ali Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader.
(2) Iran’s constitution does not recognize Baha’i followers as religious minorities, but articles of the Constitution guarantee the right to association for everyone.
(3) The Council was founded in 1984 on the order of Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of Islamic Republic, to ensure Islamization of universities, survey academia to ensure their allegiance to the regime and their adherence to Islamic values.